Posts Tagged ‘Leadership’

1 Corinthians 11:26-29

In 1 Corinthians 11:26-29 Paul continues to teach on the meaning of the Lord’s Supper. He reminds the church that this celebration is about Jesus, a new covenant, and nothing else. What is the new covenant all about?

  • It is about an inner transformation, that cleanses us from all sin: For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more (Jeremiah 31:34)
  • It is about God’s Word and will in us: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts (Jeremiah 31:33)
  • It is about a new, close, relationship with God: I will be their God, and they shall be My people (Jeremiah 31:33)

So it is serious and we need to treat it as such. “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”

Paul then goes on to tell us how to prepare for receiving the Lord’s Supper. Failure to prepare and partake in a worthy manner is like using profanity at Jesus. “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord.” Taking part in the Lord’s Supper means we recognize what we celebrate. It also means we deal with our sin and confess it. If a Christian is in sin, and stubbornly unrepentant, they are mocking what Jesus did on the cross to cleanse them from their sin. We must get right with God and confess and repent to come to the Table in a worthy way.

Paul warns the Corinthian Christians to treat the Lord’s Supper with reverence, and to practice it in a spirit of self-examination. However, this is not written with the thought of excluding ourselves from the table, but of preparing us to receive with the right heart. “Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.” It is just given so we take the proper steps to prepare, which begins with looking into our own heart to see what sins we need to confess and what relationships we need to mend. Guzik wrote “ We can never really make ourselves “worthy” of what Jesus did for us on the cross.

He did it because of His great love, not because some of us were so worthy. As we take the bread and cup, we should not stare at the floor or struggle to achieve some sort of spiritual feeling. We should simply open our heart to Jesus and recognize His presence with us – in fact, in us!” If we will discipline ourselves and approach the Lord’s Supper in the right manner, the Lord will not need to chastise us with His hand of correction. “For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.” God is serious about this ordinance of communion and will discipline us if we fail to take it seriously.

1 Corinthians 9:23-27

In 1 Corinthians 9:23-27 Paul gives us clarity on his purpose. He’s completely focused on being a minister of the Gospel and that drives everything he does. Paul was willing to offend people over the gospel, but only for that reason. It was central to all he did and who he was. The reason is not self-serving or focused on himself – it was because he knew the power and blessing it has on the life of one who receives Jesus. It is in fact the greatest blessing that any of us can or will ever experience. Paul’s completely consumed with that. “I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.”

Sporting events were big in Paul’s day just like the are today in our world. This was especially meaningful to the Corinthians, because their city was the center for the Isthmian Games, second in prestige to the ancient Olympics. Paul often uses figures from sports competition to share his message and truth. “Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.” Paul tells us to train and compete as athletes who really want to win. Without effort, nothing can be won in a sporting event. The difference between faith and sports is that everyone who will receive the gift of grace can win salvation. It is not a limited offer. All can have it if they will receive it.

In that day, Roman athletes had to train for ten months before being allowed in the games. An athlete must refuse things that may be fine for themselves, but will hinder the pursuit of his goal. As such, the Corinthians must refuse things that are fine in themselves (like meat sacrificed to idols), because having them may hinder the pursuit of the important goal: an imperishable crown, a heavenly reward that will never pass away. “Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.” They are playing for something far better than winning a race – this is grace for all eternity.

With so much at stake, Paul makes it clear that he is all in getting ready to do the work of the ministry. He made sure that his body was the servant, and his inner man was the master. The desires of his body were not going to rule over his entire self. “So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” Paul saw himself as being like an announcer at the event along with a participant. He told others the rules of the competition, but had to follow them himselves. No one gets a pass to eternity except through faith in Christ. He didn’t want to be disqualified because he did not obey the requirements of winning the race!

1 Corinthians 9:15-18

In 1 Corinthians 9:15-18 Paul reminds the Corinthian church that while he has the right for support, he has not played that card. The intent of this part of his letter to them was not to hint for their support at all. He makes clear that there are reasons he is giving up his right for support. “But I have made no use of any of these rights, nor am I writing these things to secure any such provision. For I would rather die than have anyone deprive me of my ground for boasting.” Paul’s boasting wasn’t that he preached the gospel. He had to do that (for necessity is laid upon me); instead, his boasting was that he was able to do it without asking his hearers for support.

Paul makes clear that being a preacher does not make him special with a place to boast from. “For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” He preaches because he was called by God to minister.  Paul’s ministry was not just a matter of choice or personal ambition; it was something he was called to, something he had to do. He did not just have “preacher’s itch.” He was called to preach and felt compelled to fulfill that call. It was the purpose God had for his life, and he couldn’t not do it.

Some are not supported by the ministry, but it has nothing to do with choice, it is just because of their circumstances. There are cases when the church is not able to support a pastor. But if one does not receive support willingly, then they have a reward. They are blessed by God in other ways. However, if it is against my will that I am not supported, then I have been entrusted with a stewardship. Paul has a responsibility to steward the Good News of the gospel of Jesus Christ. God has entrusted him with that task. “For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward, but not of my own will, I am still entrusted with a stewardship.”

In Paul’s day, there were a lot of religious entrepreneurs, who were out to preach any message to get money. They preached a fake gospel and had their own interest at heart. Paul was happy to distance himself from these by never taking an offering so no one would think he might abuse [his] authority in the gospel. This was Paul’s reward. “What then is my reward? That in my preaching I may present the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.” He preaches without the strings of support. Most of us will never face this exact situation. But we each have a critical question to answer: what rights are you willing to sacrifice for the cause of Jesus?

1 Corinthians 5:11-13

In 1 Corinthians 5:11-13 Paul hands down some pretty strong guidance for how we should live as Christ Followers. The short version is that if we know someone who is guilty of sin, we should avoid them. Does this mean habitual sinners, or everyone who sins. If the later we’ll have a pretty quiet existence because all have sinned and fall short of God’s obedience. Paul is referring here to habitually make the choice to continue in a sinful behavior even after being confronted or convicted about it. All sin is a choice. Satan doesn’t make us sin. We choose to sin, sometimes helped along that path by the enemy or people we associate with, but make no mistake that all sin is a choice we make first and foremost.

Paul is warning us not to hang out with people who might lead us into the ongoing choice to continue in a sin, or may actually bring us along into a new area of sinfulness. We certainly don’t need those kind of influences in our life. So he warns us not to associate with them, even to the point of sharing a meal together. We need to isolate ourselves and be sure we don’t intentionally do things that will cause us to fall. “But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler – not even to eat with such a one.”

Does Paul’s directive apply to people around us who are not Christ Followers? The text seems to indicate that what matters is those who are Christ Followers. They have a different level of accountability and expectation to keep. So while it wold be easy to apply the same filter to all, Paul is clear it begins within the body of Christ. God’s standards must first be applied to those who call Him Lord. We may prefer to do it the other way around, but that is not God’s way. He’s about cleaning His house first, and we play a role in that process, first in cleaning up the sin in our own life, and then by confronting sin in the lives of other Christ Followers we are connected with. “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?”

Paul summarizes his teaching on sin very succinctly. God alone will address the sins of the world. That’s not our job from within the body of Christ. “God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” What is our responsibility is to purge sin from within the walls of the church. Not by pointing fingers or posting pictures on social media. It has to begin with ourselves and an honest assessment of where we fall short and have a sin problem. Scripture is clear that we do – so this isn’t a case where some get a pass and others have to change their ways. We look inside, we look at the lives of those around us, and we deal with sin or should face the reality that the church should discipline us until we choose to live God’s way.

1 Corinthians 4:16-21

In 1 Corinthians 4:16-21 Paul tells the church at Corinth what they need to do – imitate him. That’s a pretty bold statement. “I urge you, then, be imitators of me.” The first reaction of many of the Corinthian Christians would probably be that Paul was regarded as a fool, as weak, as dishonored; he was hungry and thirsty and poorly clothed, homeless and beaten; he worked hard to support himself with manual labor. Why would we want to imitate him? Why would that make sense and be the right thing to do? Because the glory and power of Jesus Christ shines through Paul. He is an instrument being used by God to change lives for eternity as a minister of the gospel.

Paul reminds them why he sent Timothy. “That is why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church.” The message was to reinforce what Paul had been teaching them. Timothy seemed to be Paul’s chief “trouble shooter,” often being sent to problem churches. The church in Corinth was certainly a church running adrift and in need of some strong leadership. They were arrogant and doing whatever they wanted without regard to the authority of Paul and others over them. “Some are arrogant, as though I were not coming to you.”

So while the leaders in the church at Corinth were blatantly ignoring Paul and his instruction, he calls them out and reminds them that if God allows he was going to come and confront them face to face. “But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I will find out not the talk of these arrogant people but their power.” Paul leaves the ball in their court. Which Paul did they want to come? The Paul with the rod of correction or the Paul with the spirit of gentleness?  There is no doubt Paul would prefer to come in gentleness, but he’ll leave that decision up to the Corinthians! But Paul isn’t going to let their bad prideful behavior go unchallenged.

Paul knows what needs to happen won’t be easy. And it won’t be repaired with words alone. “For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power.” The Holy Spirit will have to do a work. Guzik says “Paul is facing some of the real challenges of ministry; how to confront sin without being too harsh, or implying that you are above sin; how to get people to conform their lives to the gospel when they think too highly of themselves. This is tough work in a heart to do, and only a great work by the Holy Spirit can accomplish it!” Paul wants the church to think about how they are living and the reality of correction that will come if they don’t shape up. “What do you wish? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love in a spirit of gentleness?”

1 Corinthians 4:11-15

In 1 Corinthians 4:11-15 Paul talks about the condition of those ministering to the church. They were not physically blessed in any way with comforts of the world. The Corinthians, in their love of Greek wisdom, embraced the Greek idea that manual labor was fit only for slaves. It offended them that one of God’s apostles would actually work with his own hands! “To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we entreat.” But more than the abuse they took for working with their hands to earn a living (Paul was a tentmaker), they were also mistreated by words and attacks.

Paul is saying that when they were slandered, the apostles would reach out in kindness to the one who spoke against them. This also was offensive to the Greek ideal; they thought a man was a wimp if he didn’t fight back when slandered. Paul paints a pretty dismal picture of how those ministering the gospel were being treated by the church in Corinth. “We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.” Think of Paul’s resume: bounced from church to church, run out of many towns, accused of starting riots, rarely supported by the church, arrested and imprisoned several times—he put up with much to serve Christ.

Yet he doesn’t attempt to shame the church into taking action and change things. “I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children.” With his biting sarcasm, Paul knows the Corinthian Christians might (and should) be pretty ashamed. He wants them to know his purpose hasn’t been to make them feel ashamed, but to warn them of a significant spiritual danger: pride. Paul’s effort is to instruct the church in how they should support the ministers of the gospel. The church at Corinth was focused on self, not those serving them. That needed to change.

Paul explains the difference between the kinds of teachers/instructors the church in Corinth had. There were many who were guides for the journey to follow Christ and live a Christian life. But there is a completely different class of leader that Paul wants them to understand. “For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” Paul had a unique place of authority and leadership among the Corinthian Christians, not only because he fathered the church itself in Corinth but also because of his authority as an apostle. He was not merely a guide or instructor. He was literally the one appointed by God to direct them in their walk with Christ.

1 Corinthians 1:26-31

In 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 Paul asks us to consider our calling as Christ Followers. There were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble among the Christians at Corinth. Paul’s not afraid to remind them that they are pretty normal people. “For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.” They didn’t have a unique background or lineage. They were just regular folks, not the top of the stack. So they had nothing to claim on their own. Their only claim to anything was Jesus.

That’s not a slam on them. It’s God way. It’s His plan. He takes the ordinary and makes it extra-ordinary. He takes the sinner and makes them holy through the Cross. No doubt, many of the Corinthian Christians were beginning to think of themselves in high terms because of God’s work in them. Paul will not allow this. They have not been chosen because they are so great, but because God is so great.“But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;” It’s all about God, not us. God chooses to do things His way. And that is all about Jesus, not you or me.

God goes even further by taking those that the world has written off and making them something special. God has called the weak and ignorant first, but not exclusively; shepherds first, then wise men; fishermen first, then the educated. “God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” Why? So God is glorified and Jesus is the only way. This is the end result. No one will stand before God and declare, “I figured You out” or “You did it just like I thought You should.” God’s ways are greater and higher, and nothing of the flesh will glory in His presence.

Here’s the bottom line. Jesus is everything. Without Him, we are nothing and will have nothing. He alone is the source of life. He alone will bring us wisdom. “He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” Guzik writes that He gives us:

  1. Righteousness – which means that we are legally declared not only “not guilty,” but to have a positiverighteousness. It means that the righteous deeds and character of Jesus are accounted to us. We don’t become righteous by focusing on ourselves, because Jesus became for us… righteousness.
  2. Sanctificationspeaks of our behavior, and how the believers are to be separate from the world and unto God. We don’t grow in sanctification by focusing on ourselves, but on Jesus, because Jesus became for us… sanctification.

iii.Redemption is a word from the slave trade. The idea is that we have been purchased to permanent freedom. We don’t find freedom by focusing on ourselves, because Jesus became for us… redemption.

God did it all this way so that God would get the glory. The path for God’s glory is Christ crucified; the evidence of God’s glory is His choice of the lowly. “Therefore, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” God alone is worth our boasting!

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