Gifted But Divided & at War With Others

Today’s selected reading is found in the first New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Corinth. More specifically today’s passage is found in the first chapter of this New Testament book. “Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:1-3).

 

            “I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: so that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:4-9).

 

            “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I am of Apollos; and I am of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius; lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name. And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other” (1 Corinthians 1:10-16).

 

            “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which 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” (1 Corinthians 1:17-25).

 

 

            “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, nor many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: that no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: that, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord” (! Corinthians 1:26-31).

 

            When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find the first of two epistles which the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints which were at Corinth. Corinth you will recall was a city in Macedonia which the apostle Paul journeyed to after departing from the city of Athens. If you take the time to read chapters seventeen and eighteen of the New Testament book of Acts you will find the tremendous truth surrounding the apostle Paul departing from the city of Philippi after not only preaching the gospel unto both Jews and Gentiles but also after being imprisoned together with Silas. After a supernatural intervention from the Lord as a direct result of their praising and worshipping the living God at the midnight hour the apostle Paul and Silas would journey unto Thessalonica with Timothy who they would bring from Lystra and Derbe. It would be in Thessalonica the apostle Paul and his companions would witness and experience a tremendous opposition from the unbelieving and envious Jews who not only blasphemed and opposed themselves but also who incited the whole city in an uproar against them. Concerned for the safety and well-being of the apostle Paul the disciples would send him forth unto Berea where he would once more preach the gospel unto the Jews and Gentiles. Here in Berea the Jews which were present were entirely different from those which were in Thessalonica for they would actually search the Scriptures to see if the words which the apostle Paul had spoken were indeed true. With this being said, however, the apostle Paul would be forced from Berea as well for the Jews which were in Thessalonica would bring their opposition here as well and incite the crowd and mob against the apostle Paul. Once more the apostle Paul would depart and this time would head for the city of Athens.

 

            In order to understand the time the apostle Paul spent in the city of Corinth it is absolutely necessary to recognize the journey that would lead to his arriving there. If you read the seventeenth chapter you will find the apostle Paul being present in three different Macedonian cities—those cities being Thessalonica, Berea and Athens. Upon the departure from Athens the apostle Paul would come unto Corinth where he would encounter a couple by the name of Aquila and Priscilla. As was his custom the apostle Paul would enter into the synagogue teaching and preaching those things concerning the kingdom as well as the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus. Scripture reveals how when Silas and Timothy arrived at Corinth the apostle Paul was pressed in the spirit and began to fervently and vehemently contend that Jesus was indeed both the Lord and the Christ. Here in Corinth, however, the apostle Paul would find himself once more contending with the opposition and blasphemy of the Jews who would raise themselves up against him. It would be here in the city of Corinth the apostle Paul would shake the dust off his feet unto the Jews and not only declare that his hands were clean and innocent of their blood but also that he would go unto the Gentiles from that time forward. Oh if there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand concerning the time which the apostle Paul spent in Corinth it’s that this city would be one of those where the apostle Paul would spend a considerable amount of time.

 

            As you read the New Testament book of Acts you will find it written in the eleventh chapter how upon bringing Paul from Tarsus unto Antioch both Barnabas and Paul would spend a year’s time there among the brethren. What we find in the eighteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts concerning the apostle Paul in the city of Corinth is that he would spend eighteen months among the people there laboring among them concerning the kingdom of heaven. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and how absolutely incredible it is for whereas the apostle Paul would be sent forth by the disciples and brethren from Thessalonica and Berea the apostle Paul would actually spend a considerable amount of time in Corinth. What’s more is that if you take the time to read the words which are found in the eighteenth chapter of this book you will find the Lord Jesus appearing unto the apostle Paul and not only encouraging him but also commanding and instructing him to continue teaching and preaching and not to be silent. Although the apostle Paul would experience a similar degree and measure of opposition and blasphemy from the Jews in Corinth as he had in Thessalonica, Berea and previous cities he had journeyed to the Lord would not allow him to depart from the midst of it. The underlying reason for this is because the Lord Jesus Himself would declare that he had much people in the city. When the Lord Jesus appeared unto the apostle Paul there in Corinth you will find him declaring unto him that He had much people in the city and that none would set upon him to hurt or harm him.

 

            It is with all of this in mind I would like to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in the eighteenth chapter of this New Testament book for the words which we find here bring us face to face with the awesome and powerful truth surrounding the time the apostle Paul spent investing and pouring into the lives of those in Corinth. Although the apostle Paul might have been tempted to depart from this Macedonia city the Lord Jesus Himself would appear unto him and instruct him to abide and remain present in the midst of it among the people. It would be the Lord Jesus Himself who would instruct the apostle Paul concerning Corinth and it would be the Lord Jesus who would govern the work which would take place among the people here in this ancient city. Oh we must needs recognize and understand this for not only was there a tremendous work which needed to be accomplished and fulfilled in the midst of the city but the Lord Jesus also had much people present in the city. The city of Corinth would be entirely and altogether different from Thessalonica and Berea for the apostle Paul would not be permitted to depart from it because of the opposition and blasphemy of the Jews. The Lord Jesus Himself would indeed keep the apostle Paul present in Corinth—this despite the initial opposition, blasphemy and resistance of the Jews toward the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the eighteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts beginning with the first and opening verse:

 

            “After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; and found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (Because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome) and came unto them. And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers. And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks. And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ. And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook off his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles. And he departed thence, and entered into a certain man’s house, named Justus, one that worshipped God, whose house joined hard to the synagogue. And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized. Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: For I have much people in this city. And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them” (Acts 18:1-11).

 

            “And when Gallio was the deputy of Achaia, the Jews made insurrection with one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgment seat, saying, This fellow persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the law. And when Paul was now about to open his mouth, Gallio said unto the Jews, If it were a matter of wrong or wicked lewdness, O ye Jews, reason would that I should bear with you: But if it be a question of words and names, and of your law, look ye to it; for I will be no judge of such matters. And he drave them from the judgment seat. Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the chief ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat. And Gallio cared for none of these things” (Acts 18:12-17).

 

            I am absolutely convinced we must needs recognize and pay attention to the words which are found in the eighteenth chapter for the words presented here bring us face to face with the apostle Paul departing from the city of Athens which was the capital city of Greece and come unto Corinth which was another city in Greece. It would be upon coming unto Corinth the apostle Paul would reason in the synagogue concerning the things concerning the kingdom. Upon Silas and Timotheus coming from Macedonia unto him the apostle Paul would be pressed in the spirit and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ. Upon hearing the words which the apostle Paul preached and spoke unto them the Jews would oppose themselves and blaspheme. As a direct result of this the apostle Paul would shake off his raiment and proclaim unto the Jews how their own blood be upon their heads for he was clean. From that moment on the apostle Paul would purpose that he would go unto the Gentiles. What makes the time the apostle Paul would spend in Corinth so incredibly significant and powerful when you take the time to think about it is that the Lord Jesus would appear unto him there in the midst of the city. Despite the fact the Jews opposed themselves and blasphemed the apostle Paul would receive a powerful revelation from the Lord Jesus who would encourage Paul to not be afraid but speak and hold not his peace. Moreover the Lord Jesus would declare unto the apostle Paul that He was with him and no man would set upon him to hurt him for He had much people in the city. As a direct result of this vision and encounter with the Lord Jesus the apostle Paul would continue in Corinth for a space of one year and six months teaching the word of God among them.

 

            When we come to the first epistle written unto the Corinthian saints we must needs recognize and understand the time the apostle Paul spent laboring and toiling among them. Despite the fact the Jews had initially opposed themselves and blasphemed the Lord Jesus would encourage the apostle Paul to not be afraid nor to fear being present in the city for there would be no man who would set upon him to do him harm. Moreover the Lord Jesus would declare unto the apostle Paul how He had much people in the city, thus indicating that there would be many who would believe on the name and word of the Lord Jesus. By the time we come to the first chapter of the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints we find a church having been established there in the city of Corinth. What makes this truly intriguing when you take the time to think about it is not necessarily what it was like while the apostle Paul was present among the people but rather what it was like after the departure of the apostle Paul. It’s one thing to read, consider and think about what it would have been like among the brethren while the apostle Paul and his companions were present among the people. Scripture speaks of the opposition and blasphemy which the apostle Paul would experience in the city of Corinth and even the additional opposition the apostle Paul would experience before the judgment seat there in the midst of the city. Scripture speaks of the apostle Paul laboring and toiling among the people of Corinth teaching and preaching those things concerning the kingdom of heaven and reasoning that Jesus of Nazareth was indeed both Lord and Christ.

 

            What we find when we read the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthians, however, provides a clear and vivid picture of what would and what could take place after the departure of the apostle Paul. The words and language present here in this epistle call and draw our attention to the tremendous issues which began to arise among the saints which were at Corinth. In all reality what we must needs recognize and understand concerning the apostle Paul—and not only concerning the apostle Paul but also concerning the churches which he had helped establish in the various cities, towns and places he journeyed to—is that after his departure from those cities and places his concern and compassion for the churches would continue to be evident and manifested within his heart and soul. In fact it is when you come to the fifteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts as well as the eleventh chapter of the second epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints you will find the truth of this matter being evident and present within the heart and soul of the apostle Paul. If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand concerning the epistles written by the apostle Paul it’s that most of them were written unto churches which he had labored and toiled among for a period of time. The apostle Paul would spend a year and a half among the Corinthians, would spend three years among the Ephesians, and would spend a certain period of time among the Philippians. The apostle Paul would write two epistles unto the Corinthian saints as well as two epistles unto the Thessalonian saints. That which we must needs think about and consider is the tremendous concern and compassion the apostle Paul had for the churches even after he departed from them. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the fifteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts as well as the eleventh chapter of the second epistle written unto the Corinthian saints:

 

            “So when they were dismissed, they came to Antioch: and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the epistle: Which when they had read, they rejoiced for the consolation. And Judas and Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them. And after they had tarried there a space, they were let go in peace from the brethren unto the apostles. Notwithstanding it pleased Silas to abide there still. Paul also and Barnabas continued in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also” (Acts 15:30-35).

 

            “And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do. And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark. But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them in Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work. And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus; and Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God. And he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches” (Acts 15:36-41).

 

            “As the truth of Christ is in me, no man shall stop me of this boasting in the regions of Achaia. Wherefore? Because I love you not? God knoweth. But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we. For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works” (2 Corinthians 11:10-15).

 

            “I say again, Let no man think me a fool; if otherwrise, yet as a fool receive me, that I may boast myself a little. That which I speak, I speak it not after the Lord, but as it were foolishly, in this confidence of boasting. Seeing that many glory after the flesh, I will glory also. For ye suffer fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise. For ye suffer, if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take of you, if a man exalt himself, if a man smite you on the face. I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. Howbeit whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also. Are they Hebrews? So am I? Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I. Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is offended, and I burn not? If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore knoweth that I lie not” (2 Corinthians 11:16-30).

            The more I read and consider the words which are found in the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthians the more I find myself coming face to face with the tremendous burden he felt for the churches which he had helped establish during his journeys. Although the apostle Paul would depart from many of the cities he had labored and toiled among the people that he might teach and preach the gospel in other cities, towns and regions that they too might hear the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus his heart would still burn for the churches and people he had labored and toiled in the midst of. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for when we read the epistles written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthians, the epistles written by the apostle unto the Thessalonians, and the epistles written by the apostle Paul unto the Galatians, unto the Ephesians, and unto the Philippians we must needs recognize that these epistles were written from a point of care and compassion for and toward the churches. The apostle Paul would take to writing these epistles because of the great and fervent love, care, and compassion he had for the churches. In many cases these epistles were written to provide some manner of instruction and encouragement unto the saints which were present in these different cities while there were certain cases where the apostle Paul would actually take to providing instruction, correction and even rebuke among the churches. The first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints and the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Galatian saints each contained a tremendous amount of correction and rebuke for the apostle Paul had heard and received reports concerning them of those things which had crept in and had been manifested among them.

 

            As I sit here this morning I can’t help but think about how the first epistle the apostle Paul wrote unto the Corinthian saints began for the apostle Paul would begin it with his customary greeting concerning himself and that one or others who might have been present with him at the time of writing the epistle. The first and opening verse of the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints would begin with his describing himself as one who was called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God. What’s more is when the apostle Paul wrote this first epistle unto the Corinthian saints he would do so with Sosthenes whom you will recall was the chief ruler of the synagogue there in the city of Corinth. The apostle Paul would go on to write unto the church of God which was at Corinth—to those which were sanctified in Christ Jesus and those who were called to be saints with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord both theirs and that of the apostle Paul. This would immediately be followed by the apostle Paul writing his customary declaration of grace being unto them and peace from God their Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Oh it is truly remarkable when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture for at the very outset of the epistle the apostle Paul wrote of himself as being an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God and of Sosthenes who was their brother in the Lord Jesus. What’s more is the apostle Paul would speak of and address those in the city of Corinth as the church of God—those who were sanctified in Christ Jesus and those who were called to be saints. Oh we dare not and must not miss the incredible importance of this for it must needs be recognized and understood that despite the apostle Paul providing correction and rebuke within this epistle he was still writing unto t hose who were sanctified in Christ Jesus and those who were called to be saints together with all those which in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ the Lord.

            Upon transitioning to the fourth verse of this opening chapter of this first epistle written by the apostle Paul you will find the apostle Paul doing something which was standard and customary in each of his epistles which were written unto the different churches and congregations he had written epistles unto. In the fourth verse we find the apostle Paul writing unto the Corinthian saints and declaring unto them how he thanked his God always on their behalf for the grace of God which had been given them by Jesus Christ. Furthermore the apostle Paul would go on to speak of the Corinthian saints and their being enriched by Jesus in every thing—in all utterance and in all knowledge. The apostle Paul would go on to write and speak of the testimony of Christ being confirmed among them so that they came behind in no gift as they waited for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. This would immediately be followed by the apostle Paul writing concerning the Lord Jesus Christ who would confirm them unto the end that they might be blameless in the day of the Lord Jesus Christ. Not only this but the apostle Paul would also proclaim and emphatically declare how God was faithful by whom they were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ their Lord. Oh the words which are written in this particular portion of Scripture are incredibly unique when you take the time to think about them for the apostle Paul would speak of the Corinthian church as being one that was enriched by the Lord Jesus and how the testimony of the Lord Jesus was confirmed in them. What’s more is the apostle Paul would go on to speak of the Corinthian church as being a church that was filled with all utterance, all knowledge and came behind in no gift.

 

            The more you read and study the history of the Corinthian church the more you will encounter and come face to face with the fact that this was a church that was inundated with spiritual gifts. You cannot read this first epistle written by the hand of the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints and not encounter and come face to face with the tremendous and incredible truth concerning this congregation being one that excelled in spiritual gifts—a reality which was present and manifested in the twelfth chapter of this very same epistle. It would be in the twelfth chapter of this epistle the apostle Paul would speak and write of the gifts of the Spirit and of their need in the midst of the body for the edification and building up of the saints that they might all come to maturity in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is clear from the very outset of this epistle that the Corinthian church was one that might very well be considered spiritual because of the tremendous presence and evidence of gifts which were manifested among them in their midst. There is absolutely no doubt when reading the words found in verses four through nine that the Corinthian church would have—for all intents and purposes—been considered as a deeply spiritual church and congregation of believers of the Lord Jesus. There is absolutely no denying the words and language found in this particular set of verses for within them we are brought face to face with the awesome and powerful truth surrounding the Corinthian church as being one where the gifts of the Spirit were in full operation among them. In all reality I would dare say that you could have entered in among the Corinthian saints and perhaps been blown away with and by the tremendous amount of spiritual gifts which were being manifested among them in their midst.

 

            With this particular reality of being considered spiritual—and not only being considered spiritual but also having the gifts of the Spirit being manifested and evident among them—I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which the Lord Jesus spoke in His famous Sermon on the Mount. It is in the seventh chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew we find what are perhaps some of the most sobering words in all of Scripture. It is here in this particular portion of Scripture we find the Lord Jesus speaking unto those to whom He was addressing concerning many who would come to Him in that day crying out and professing “Lord, Lord.” Despite, however, the fact that many would enter into the presence of the Lord Jesus and cry out “Lord, Lord” they would receive the shock of the lifetime—yea, a shock of eternity—in the very presence of the Lord Jesus. It is when you read the words found in this passage of Scripture you will find and encounter the Lord Jesus speaking of those who would come to Him in that day crying out saying “Lord, Lord” and yet Jesus would preface this by declaring how not every one who cried out to Him saying “Lord, Lord” would enter into the kingdom of heaven. Oh I am absolutely convinced we must needs recognize and understand the words which are found here in this passage of Scripture for it helps us recognize and understand the tremendous truth that is found in the opening chapter of the first epistle written unto the Corinthian saints. Moreover, I would also suggest the words which are found in the tenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the physician Luke must also be considered as well for both of them help paint a powerful picture concerning spiritual gifts and concerning the great boasts we make in the presence of the Lord Jesus. Consider if you will the following words which are found in each of these passages of Scripture:

 

            “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then I will profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it” (Matthew 7:13-27).

 

            “After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come. Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lod of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest. Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves. Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes: and salute no man by the way. And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house. And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again. And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house. And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you not, go your ways out into the streets of the same, and say, Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city” (Luke 10:1-12).

 

            “And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name. And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:17-20).

 

            There is a great and present need to recognize the words which are found in these passages of Scripture for within the gospel narrative of Matthew we find Jesus emphatically declaring how not every one who says “Lord, Lord” shall enter into the kingdom of heaven but only those who do the will of the Father. Jesus would go on to speak of those who cast out demons in His name, those who prophesied in His name and those who did many wondrous works in His name and yet not only would He profess them to be workers of iniquity, and not only would He instruct them to depart from Him but He would also declare unto them how He never knew them. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for when you come to the tenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by Luke you will find the seventy returning unto the Lord Jesus rejoicing that even the demons were subject unto them in His name. Upon hearing the words which the seventy declared and professed unto Him Jesus would instruct and command them to not rejoice that the demons were subject to them in His name but rather that their names were written in the Lamb’s book of life. Oh if there is one thing the words which are found in the seventh chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by Matthew reveals it’s the tremendous truth surrounding those who appear to be spiritually gifted and those who appear to move and operate in the gifts of the Spirit and yet are not only unknown in heaven but are also workers of iniquity. Pause for a moment and think about the fact that it is possible to move and operate in spiritual gifts and yet be entirely and altogether unknown in heaven. Stop for a moment and consider the tremendous truth that Jesus boldly declared that it was possible to move and operate in spiritual gifts and yet stand before Him in that great day confessing and professing Him as Lord, and yet hear Him declare unto you that He never knew you and to depart from Him because you were a worker of iniquity.

 

            When you come to the first chapter of the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were in Corinth you will find the apostle Paul instructing them by the name of the Lord Jesus Christ that they all speak the same thing. The apostle Paul would then go on to instruct and command them concerning divisions that there be no divisions among them but they would be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. The purpose the apostle Paul would write these words was because it was reported unto him concerning them by those which were of the house of Chloe that there were contentions among them. Within the congregation of the Corinthians there would be those who would speak of themselves as being of Paul while there would be others who would speak of themselves as being of Apollos and others who would speak of themselves as being of Cephas (Peter) or Christ. The apostle Paul would go on to ask the Corinthian saints if Christ was divided or whether or not Paul was crucified for them. The apostle Paul would also ask them if any of them were baptized in the name of Paul. Oh we must needs pay close and careful attention to the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for although the Corinthian saints and congregation excelled in spiritual gifts according to the Spirit which was present among them there were divisions and contentions among them. Oh pause for a moment and consider the tremendous truth that the Corinthian congregation was enriched in all knowledge and in all utterance and came behind or lacking in any spiritual gift and yet they were a body of believers which were divided. Not only this but if you come to the third chapter of this very same epistle you will find the apostle Paul building upon this reality and concept of being divided even further.

 

            Building and expounding upon this all the more you will find the apostle Paul writing unto and addressing the Corinthian congregation and declaring unto them that although they were enriched in all knowledge and utterance and although they came behind or lacked in any spiritual gift he could not write unto them as being spiritual. If you begin reading with and from the first and opening verse of the third chapter you will find the following words which were written by the apostle Paul: “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. 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. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planet and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building. According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise master builder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:1-11). Oh please do not miss the tremendous significance of the words the apostle Paul wrote in this particular passage of Scripture for what we find here is the apostle Paul emphatically declaring unto the Corinthian saints that he could not speak unto them as unto spiritual but as unto carnal—yea, even as unto babes in Christ. The apostle Paul would go on to declare unto them how he fed them with milk and not with meat because they were not able to bear it because they were carnal.

 

            As you continue reading the words written by the apostle Paul in the third chapter you will find the reason and purpose he could not speak unto them as spiritual but carnal for among them there was envying, and strife and divisions. Pause and consider the tremendous weight and significance of the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the Corinthian saints in this passage for this further helps illustrate just how pervasive and all-encompassing the carnality of the Corinthian saints truly were. Although they were sanctified according to the Lord Jesus Christ and although they were called to be saints unto the living God they were carnal because of the contentions, the divisions, the strife and the envying which was present among them. Despite the fact this church and congregation excelled and exceeded in all manner of utterance and knowledge and despite the fact this church came behind in no spiritual gift the apostle Paul could not write and speak unto them as being spiritual. Stop and consider just how shocking these words would have been for the Corinthian saints as they read the apostle Paul describing and declaring unto them that they were not spiritual but carnal—and not only carnal but also as babes in Christ. Pause for a moment and consider the tremendous truth that although this church and congregation did in fact exceed and excel in every spiritual gift they themselves could not be considered as spiritual but as carnal. What a tremendous warning and caution is found in this passage of Scripture for although they might have excelled in all spiritual gifts they themselves could not be addressed as spiritual but carnal because of the divisions, the strife, the contention and the envying which was present among them. Not only this but all of this seemed to come about after the departure of the apostle Paul from their midst for this would be addressed in this first epistle written unto them.

 

            In the first and opening chapter of this first epistle we find the apostle Paul writing unto the Corinthian saints and instructing them to speak the same thing and that there be no divisions among them. When writing unto the saints which were at Corinth the apostle Paul sought to address the divisions, the contentions, the strife and the envyings which were present among them for such was effectively destroying them from within. The sole purpose of this first epistle written by the apostle Paul was to address those things which were crippling and hindering this body of believers after his departure from them. The apostle Paul would indeed take to writing this epistle because of a report which was brought to his attention by the house of Chloe. Essentially there was one from among them who recognized the division, who recognized the contention and strife that was taking place among the believers and who sought to reach out to the apostle Paul concerning what they saw. Pause for a moment and consider how absolutely incredible this truly is for it seems to indicate there was one who possessed enough discernment to recognize that which was hindering and crippling the congregation. Those which were of the house of Chloe recognized the tremendous struggles and conflict that existed within and among the saints of Corinth and sought to reach out to the apostle Paul hoping that through their report change would in fact take place. Oh in all reality I have to admit that I absolutely love the words which are found in verses ten through sixteen for it indicates there were those present among the Corinthian saints who possessed enough discernment and perhaps even enough care and concern for the church to actually call out the dangers, the snares, the temptations, the pitfalls and those things which were troubling and crippling the church. There were those of the house of Chloe who saw and recognized the dangers which were facing the church in Corinth and as a direct result of this they reached out to the apostle Paul seeking to bring to an end that which was hindering, crippling and paralyzing the church which was present in Corinth.

 

            I have to admit the more I read the words which are found in the first chapter of this particular epistle the more I am confronted with the awesome truth surrounding the house of Chloe and how it was the house of Chloe that saw the dangers that were befalling the church in Corinth. What’s more is not only did the house of Chloe see the dangers which were befalling the church in Corinth but those in the house of Chloe would not sit idly by and watch them continue to wreak havoc upon the church. I have to admit I am absolutely and utterly fascinated with the words and language found in the first chapter of this epistle for I would dare say the house of Chloe is oftentimes overlooked when reading this epistle. The more I read the words which are written and recorded in this epistle the more I am brought face to face with the reality that those in the house of Chloe saw the dangers that were befalling and coming upon the church in Corinth and sought to confront it head on. Although those in the house of Chloe would not address the dangers and snares which were present in the church of Corinth themselves they would send word and report unto the apostle Paul. In all reality I am convinced that there is something to be said about the house of Chloe and not only a discernment to recognize the dangers and snares that were entrapping the church but also a willingness to do something about it. It would be those in the house of Chloe who would seek to do something about that which they saw in the midst of the church—perhaps even something which grieved them and caused their soul to be in anguish and sorrow.

 

            I read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and I am brought face to face with the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the house of Chloe and how those present within this house—those whose names we may never know—recognized that which was wreaking havoc in the midst of the church. There is not a doubt in my mind this epistle was written by the hand of the apostle Paul in direct response to the report which was brought unto him by those in the house of Chloe. I am absolutely convinced the apostle Paul received this report and word from the house of Chloe and sought to immediately confront and address those dangers and snares which were present in the midst of the church. The apostle Paul received report from those in the house of Chloe that there were divisions, strife and contentions present among them and the apostle Paul was not willing to allow them to continue. In all reality I would dare say there is something to be said—not only concerning the house of Chloe which recognized and discerned the dangers which were present in the midst of the church of Corinth but also the apostle Paul who was willing to address those dangers, snares and pitfalls head on. It might very well be said that not only was the house of Chloe but neither was the apostle Paul willing to allow these dangers, these snares, these traps and these pitfalls to go untouched and unchallenged by the very Spirit of the living God. There is something truly remarkable about the level of discernment found in the house of Chloe to not only recognize that which was crippling the church but also dare do something about it. Those in the house of Chloe were not willing to sit idly by and allow division, contention, strife, envying and the like to destroy and wreak havoc within the church.

 

            If there is one thing I feel is absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to when considering the words found in this particular epistle it’s the words which are written and recorded in the epistle which was written by James. If you turn and direct your attention to the fourth chapter of this particular epistle you will find a tremendous amount of language written by the hand of James concerning fights and quarrels which were present in the midst of the brethren who called upon the name of the Lord. In all reality I would dare say that if we wish to truly recognize and understand that which is found in the first epistle we must needs strongly consider the words and language found in the fourth chapter of the epistle written by James for it’s in this epistle we are brought face to face with the strong and powerful truth concerning that which causes fights, quarrels, contentions, warring and the like among and in the midst of us. There is not a doubt in my mind that what we find in the fourth chapter of the epistle written by James paints a powerful picture and serves as an underlying foundation for that which caused the divisions, the strife, the contentions and the envying which was present among the saints of the church of Corinth. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the fourth chapter of the epistle written by James beginning with the first verse of the chapter:

 

            “From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? But he giveth more grace. Wherefore, he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye doubleminded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord and he shall lift you up” (James 4:1-10).

 

            Please pay close attention to the words which are written and recorded in this epistle for within them we find James addressing the reason wars and fightings arise among men and women—even those who call themselves disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus. It’s important to recognize and realize that when James wrote these words he wasn’t speaking to or addressing those who weren’t Christians and those who weren’t walking with and following the Lord Jesus. When James wrote these words he was writing to and addressing those who called upon the name of the Lord and those who claimed and professed themselves to be disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus. When James wrote the words found in this epistle he was writing to Christians and describing how wars and fightings even take place among those who profess to be Christians and those who call on the name of the Lord. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for within this passage James describes how these fights and wars raged among believers because of their lusts which war in their members. Furthermore James goes on to write and declare how they lust and have not and how they kill and desire to have and cannot obtain. James writes how they fight and war yet they have not because they ask not. As if this weren’t enough James goes on to describe them as adulterers and adulteresses and how friendship of the world is enmity with God. James would immediately follow this up by declaring how whosoever would be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

 

            FIGHTS! WARS! QUARRELS! LUSTS! KILLING! FIGHT! WAR! ADULTERERS! ADULTERESSES! FRIENDSHIP OF THE WORLD! ENMITY WITH GOD! ENEMY OF GOD! The words and language which we find here help us to understand that which caused the divisions, the contentions, the strife and the envying which was present in the midst of the saints of God which were at Corinth. I would dare say that part of the trouble that was present in the midst of the saints which were at Corinth was the lusts which warred among the members within many who were present in this congregation. If James were writing unto these saints and believers he would have possibly called them adulterers and adulteresses and would possibly have even described them as being friends of the world. The apostle Paul wrote unto the Corinthian saints concerning the divisions which were among them for they allowed themselves to follow personalities rather than the Lord Jesus Christ. If there is one thing we must needs recognize when reading the first epistle written unto the Corinthians it’s what happens when we allow ourselves to follow personalities and adopt a hero mentality within our hearts and minds. Oh would it shock and surprise you to think and consider how it is possible for men and women in the church to adopt a hero mindset and to commit and devote themselves to a personality rather than to the Lord Jesus Christ? The underlying danger that was found among the Corinthian saints was that they allowed themselves to focus on flesh and blood rather than upon the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Corinthian saints allowed themselves to be caught up in personalities and preachers rather than the Lord Jesus Christ alone. As you read the words found in this passage you will find the apostle Paul describing how there were those who professed to be of Paul while there were others who professed to be of Apollos, or of Cephas, or even of Christ.

 

            The more you think about and consider the words found in this passage of Scripture the more you will uncover the tremendous truth that the Corinthian saints allowed themselves to be divided along lines of personalities and preachers rather than being unified in their pursuit and worship of the Lord Jesus. The saints which were at Corinth allowed themselves to get caught up in flesh and blood and devoting themselves to and following personalities rather than the Lord Jesus Christ. Oh I cannot help but read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and encounter the tremendous truth surrounding the saints of God which were at Corinth and how they allowed themselves to align unto personalities and preachers rather than focusing on walking with and following the Lord Jesus Christ. If there is perhaps one thing we must needs recognize and understand when reading the words found in the opening chapter of this epistle it’s what happens within our hearts and lives when we allow ourselves to focus on the charisma, the personality, the preaching, and the teaching of man rather than upon the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s quite interesting how when you read the epistles written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints you will find him declaring his regarding no man according to the flesh but regarding every man after and according to the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. The words which we find in this particular epistle bring us face to face with the inherent danger that surrounds what I will celebrity-ism which is and has been pervasive in the Church. What we must needs recognize and understand when reading this particular portion of Scripture it’s how pervasive this reality of celebrity-ism and personality-ism is in the body of Christ.

 

            As you read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will encounter and come face to face with the awesome and incredible truth concerning the divisions which existed in the Corinthian church surrounding the personalities of preachers. What’s more is that if you read the words which are found in the first and opening chapter you will find the apostle Paul pointing out to the Corinthians that it was Christ who was crucified for them and it was in the name of the Lord Jesus they were baptized. Essentially that which the apostle Paul sought to accomplish among the Corinthians through this epistle was to not only confront the divisions and schisms present among them but also bring them to the place where they conducted themselves as disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus rather than followers and disciples of a mere man. What we find in this passage of Scripture beginning with the seventeenth verse is the apostle Paul declaring unto them the purpose of the Lord Jesus to send him unto them—not to baptize but to preach the gospel. The gospel the apostle Paul preached was not with wisdom of words lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. Furthermore the apostle Paul sought to set forth before the Corinthians how the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness but unto those who are saved the power of God. It is absolutely necessary that we recognize the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the Corinthians in this passage of Scripture for the words found here bring us face to face with the gospel centering upon the Lord Jesus Christ and not upon a single man nor even a personality or celebrity. The apostle Paul reminded the Corinthians that he was sent unto them to preach the gospel and to preach it as the power of God unto salvation. The apostle Paul was sent to preach unto the Corinthian saints the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ as the sole means of bringing forth their salvation in the sight and presence of the living God.

 

In bringing this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words found in this passage for not only did the apostle Paul seek to remind the Corinthian saints of the cross of Jesus Christ and the preaching of the cross as the power of God unto salvation to those who believed but the apostle Paul also sought to demonstrate the sheer foolishness and futility of the wisdom of men. It is absolutely necessary we recognize and understand the words which are found in the first chapter of this epistle for in response to the divisions which were present among the Corinthian saints we find the apostle writing of the preaching of the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ and how Jesus was indeed crucified for them. Moreover the apostle Paul goes on to remind them of their calling and how there were not many who were wish after the flesh, how there were not many mighty, not many noble who are called. Moreover the apostle Paul emphatically declared that God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise and the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty. That which the apostle Paul sought to do was bring the Corinthians back to the place and point of the cross and to draw them away from being enticed by the wisdom and strength of the world. The apostle Paul sought to call and bring the Corinthian saints into the place where they abandoned the wisdom and strength of men and recognized that even the weakness of God and even what might be considered the foolishness of God is wiser than the strength and wisdom of men. That which the apostle Paul sought to do was call and invite the Corinthian saints into the place where they abandoned themselves to the cross of Jesus Christ—and not only abandon themselves to the cross of Jesus Christ but also abandon any trust in the wisdom and strength of men that they might be fully and completely surrendered to the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.

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