Nepaug Bible Church - - Pastor's Evening Sermon Notes -

Part III: Overcoming Divisions Between Believers Through Accepting True Messages
(1 Corinthians 1:18-2:5)
  1. Introduction
    1. One of the sources of division in Christendom has been the response of people to teachers.
    2. There are one of two causes for this: (a) Either the speaker may err, causing the upright to leave (cf. 2 Peter 2:1-3) or the hearers may err, abandoning sound teaching, 2 Timothy 4:3-4.
    3. Paul offered discernment so that the godly can tell what to do with what they are taught for true unity:
  2. Overcoming Divisions Between Believers Through Accepting True Messages, 1 Corinthians 1:18-2:5.
    1. Paul revealed that true messages spoken by God's empowered messengers do NOT manipulate hearers through oratorical finesse, 1 Corinthians 1:18-25. The message is rather simple, rather direct.
    2. Also, true messages spoken by God's empowered messengers do NOT attract their hearers to the human prowess of the speaker, 1 Corinthians 1:26-30. God does not want any human messenger to be glorified among His people -- God jealously desires that only He Himself obtain that glory in the process, 1:29, 31.
    3. To illustrate these truths, Paul recalled his evangelistic ministry with the Corinthians, 1 Cor. 2:1-6:
      1. When Paul arrived in Corinth, the sin of the city coupled with Paul's strict Pharisaic background and ministry trials to that date caused him to evangelize these folk near a nervous collapse:
        1. Paul mentioned that he determined to present himself not as a skilled orator, but as knowing nothing among the Corinthians accept the simple Gospel of Christ crucified, 1 Corinthians 2:1-2:
        2. In the Acts 17:1-34, 18:1-8 context, we can see why: (a) Paul had just left Thessalonica and Berea upon being hounded by Judaizers, and gone to Athens to quiet things down for the new believers he had left in these towns, Acts 17:1-10a, 10b-14a. (b) At Athens, while waiting to be joined by Timothy, he was so troubled at the city's idolatry that he began witnessing with mixed results, Acts 17:14b-34. (c) He thus left Athens for Corinth where Paul was again pressed in the spirit to witness even though he was unrested and nervous from his previous efforts, Acts 18:1-6. (d) In fact, God had to encourage Paul to stay at Corinth with a vision because he was so wrung out, Acts 18:7-9. (e) This was also needed as Paul was dragged before the officials by an angry mob, Acts 18:11-13.
        3. We know Corinth was very wicked: "to live as a Corinthian" meant to live materialistically and immorally, Z.P.E.B., vol. One, p. 961. Facing such sin with his theologically conservative and devout Pharisee background would have been humanly tough on Paul, cf. Phil. 3:4-6.
        4. Consequently, Paul reports he was near a nervous collapse when he evangelized there, 1 Cor. 2:3!
      2. Accordingly, he did not speak with impressive words or impressive appearance, but depended upon the Holy Spirit alone for effectiveness in spite of the lack of human prowess, 1 Corinthians 2:4a.
      3. Yet, the Holy Spirit powerfully moved many Corinthians to be saved, 1 Cor. 2:4b-5 with Acts 18:10b.
      4. The reason God allowed Paul to arrive at Corinth in his humanly weakened condition, and to speak to these folk in such spiritual darkness was that their faith would not stand in human prowess that they were so used to exalting in their wicked ways: God needed an unimpressive human instrument in Paul so that their faith would stand in Paul's God instead, 1 Corinthians 2:5.
Lesson: God wants His people to look BEYOND the human element of their messengers to be moved by the SPIRITUAL dimensions of their words and acts, producing proper responses to teachers.

Application: Similarly, James 3:14-18 supplies a detailed test to discern if a message or messenger is of God: (1) Negative qualities to SHUN in a speaker and his message are: (a) envy in his attitude (3:14a), (b) a tendency to cause strife in his hearers (3:14b), (c) a preoccupation with visible, earthly things over spiritual truth (3:15b) and (d) insubordination to properly established leaders (3:16). (2) Positive qualities to ACCEPT in a speaker and his messages are: (a) a preoccupation with the purity of truth and righteousness of what is taught from the Bible, 3:17a; (b) a tendency to produce peace in his hearers, 3:17b; (c) a tendency to be considerate for the sensitivities of the hearers, 3:17c; (d) a tendency to "give ground" to avoid unwarranted conflict, 3:17d; (e) a tendency to live what it taught, 3:17e; (f) a tendency to be unbiased in applying the truth to all the hearers, 3:17f and (g) sincerity, 3:17g.