Updated 15 Jan 2019
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1 Corinthians 3
Paul demonstrates that he is very aware of the needs of the church at Corinth and writes with authority, yet, humility to them. This is part of the apostolic role to assess and then fill any gaps that come to light in a church's situation.
Milk, not Solid Food
The spiritual milk of the Word is not to be despised, as Peter tells us in his letter (1 Peter 2:2). However, if a baby has grown into childhood and its only diet is milk, that is a problem. Paul’s definition of a spiritual infant is a Christian who is still very worldly. Quarrelling and jealousy demonstrate worldliness and spiritual immaturity. Essentially, being selfish and wanting our own way, rather than seeking God's way.
Paul and Apollos
Paul has talked about division in Chapter 1 and here again, he expresses his disappointment that, in peoples estimation, personalities and individuals are rated more highly than what that person's ministry contributes to the body of Christ.
First of all, a minister is a servant and not a celebrity. We do not minister for position or prestige but, rather, to bless and encourage God's people.
Secondly, in ministry we play a part in God’s work and He values every part played and every person’s contribution. So, some plant, some water and some reap. All of these things contribute helpfully but whatever someone does in the body of Christ, it is Christ alone who should be honoured and praised.
We work with our Lord, submitting to him, and we perceive the helpful picture of a farmer. We plough the ground, we sow the seed, we water the crop, and we reap a harvest. However, it is God’s field (the World) that we work in and it is God's kingdom that we are building. Doing our own thing and then asking God to bless our plans, will not bear fruit. Learning God's ways, strategies and plans and then doing them, is vital!
Laying a Foundation
Paul’s ministry was successful, because the foundation of everything he did was the Lord Jesus Christ. Having Jesus as the base and root of all we do and the reason we exist, is a great beginning. However, repenting of our sin and receiving Christ as our personal Saviour and Lord, is only the start. We need to make choices and decisions that reflect that great beginning.
The Fire of God's Judgement
Paul introduces a very important subject, which is the judgement of all believers. The judgement which decides our eternal future is another matter. When we receive Jesus as our Saviour, we are rescued from hell and put on a road to heaven. We are forgiven and have been made God’s children. However, we must still be responsible in our Christian lives and we are accountable to God. The judgement of a believer implies rewards for those who serve faithfully and a time when the Lord will express his appreciation for faithful service.
We are immensely grateful that Jesus has taken the punishment we deserve but we also long to hear him say, "Well done, good and faithful servant!" We know that if and when, by God's grace, he speaks such words to us, we will rejoice and give him all the glory!
We are a special people, set aside exclusively for the Lord. We have the Spirit of God. We must not bring problems upon ourselves and we know that God will protect us from those who might seek to destroy us. Humility is vital, understanding that our human wisdom falls far short of what the Lord requires. We must set aside worldly rating of leaders and follow Christ, who invests himself into all sorts of personalities and types to build his church. We are Christ’s and Christ is God. Let our boasting be in Christ. Hallelujah!
Points to Consider:
- Consider your spiritual diet. Are you truly seeking a deeper walk with God?
- How influenced are you by personalities? How careful are you to value different ministries from different personalities?
- Are you a co-worker or do you take over from the Lord in your ministry?
- How prepared are you to face judgement as a believer? Gold or straw - how will your work withstand the test of God's fire?
- Are you aware that you can be rewarded for faithful Christian living? How careful are you to protect your body, which is a temple of the Holy Spirit?
God bless you!
Bible Study: 1 Corinthians 3
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