January 16, 2013

Today you should read: 1 Corinthians 1:18-31

I absolutely love this passage. This is a great snapshot of God’s plan to save the world. The power behind this plan, the driving force was and is Jesus being crucified for sinners (v. 23 and 29). It is so simple and yet so difficult to understand. Human logic and wisdom cannot grasp this.

Think about it, in order to save the world God would have to become a man, live a perfect life, die on a cross and come back to life.  Logically, that makes no sense. But here is why I think God’s plan, as laid out in this passage, happened and is happening the way that it is:

This plan can only be accomplished by and attributed to an all-powerful, wise and good God. We get none of the credit

Verses 18-28 tell us His plan. Lowly people triumphing over the wise; a God-man having to die. That is our hope?

And then verses 29-31 tell us why He did it that way. This plan eliminates any possibility of pride and boasting on our part.

Some of us, though we don’t say it, may think or feel or act as if we are saved because we had a more spiritual bent or were smart enough to figure it out. This is a wrong and dangerous view. When you think about your salvation, come back to this passage and thank God for it. Your salvation is from God through Jesus and His “foolish” plan. We have done nothing to earn, deserve or discover this salvation.

Not only that, but wisdom, our righteousness, our holiness and our redemption are all gifts to us from Jesus through what He did on the cross for us.

This should encourage us to follow what verse 31 tells us to do:

Therefore, as it is written; “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord” 

Posted by: Robbie Byrd

January 15, 2013

Today you should read: 1 Corinthians 1:10-17

When I worked with Cru at NC State University, I encountered a group of students who were, shall we say, very zealous.  At the risk of opening a can of worms, I’ll go ahead and tell you that these students were hyper-Calvinists.  Let’s be clear.  I’m not saying their theological views were wrong, nor am I saying they were right.  I’m saying that these particular students (not every Calvinist) were divisive because they came across as very zealous for trying to get people to follow a particular theology, but not being interested in joining with us at that time to reach the lost and make Disciples of Christ.

You may know that if someone is a five-point Calvinist it means that he/she believes in five of the main categories of Calvinism.  Being a five-point Calvinist was not at all the divisive issue when I was at NC State.  The problem was that these particular guys (again, not every Calvinist) seemed more like six-point Calvinists, and the sixth-point was that you apparently had to be arrogant and obnoxious.  Also, these guys quoted more authors, pastors, and speakers to me than they ever did the Scripture.  All this stuff caused a lot of disunity.

OK, I know people are going to have various views and beliefs.  I get that.  People have various pastors, speakers, and authors which they prefer.  I get that, too.  But, at some point, as we are standing firm for truth, we have to be careful with how we represent our views and the people we “follow.”  Otherwise, we will cause division and quarrels among us.

Paul wrote to the church of Corinth, in part, to deal with similar types of quarrels and divisions.  He had been informed that there were “quarrels among [them]” (1 Cor. 10:11).  Some called themselves followers of Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or Christ (1. Cor. 10:12).  Paul wanted them to be followers of Christ alone.

Our church is full of people from various backgrounds, denominations, and theological views.  I imagine if everyone from our congregation laid their views of various topics out on the table that we would have some tense discussions.  But, I would hope that above having certain views or being followers of Calvin, Wesley, Rick Warren, Tim Keller, Mark Driscoll, Max Lucado, Craig Groeschel, Francis Chan, John Piper, C.J. Mahaney, Tim Parsons, or “insert favorite author/ speaker/pastor here,” we’d be a Body of Christ that has a unified vision of reaching the lost and making disciples OF CHRIST.  I pray that we’d live up to Paul’s exhortation of the Corinthians in 1 Cor. 10:10.

On a different note, 1 Cor. 10:17 is a good verse to consider in regards to the whole “is baptism necessary for salvation” issue.  Paul said that Christ didn’t send him to baptize, but to preach the Gospel.

Thanks for reading, and please refrain from posting any anti-Calvinist or anti-Armenian comments.  I know you are tempted. J Thanks!

Posted by: Rich Duffield

January 14, 2013

Today you should read: 1 Corinthians 1:1-9

Today, we begin an incredible new book of the Bible together: 1 Corinthians! If it is your first time reading this book, you might look at the passage we read today and think to yourself, “these Corinthian Christians must be awesome.” Well, you’ll find out soon enough that they had lots of issues that needed to be dealt with. Paul will prove to be both very loving and disciplinary with them.

There are a many highlights from this reading today. Let’s check out a few and then look at Paul’s discipleship heart.

— In verse 1, Paul establishes his authority in writing this letter. He is an apostle of Jesus, chosen for the task.

— Paul gives a brief purpose for and theology of the church at Corinth, and all churches for that matter in verse 2. The church is God’s plan. God’s people must walk with Him in holiness and righteousness. And there is a global Church made up of all who confess Jesus as Lord.

To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:
(1 Corinthians 1:2 ESV)

— Paul encourages them as he does in most letters with “grace and peace”.

— In verses 4-9, Paul exposes the heart of a good pastor and discipler. Even though we’ll find out that the Corinthians were rebellious in many ways, he was still (1) thankful for them, (2) complimentary and affirming of their previous growth, and (3) pointed them to their only hope: Jesus Christ.

If you are discipling anyone right now in the faith, how are you doing in these areas? Are you thankful for your disciples entrusted to you even when they struggle? Do you affirm and build up those whom you are investing in? Do you always leave them with the hope and power found in Jesus?

What did you learn from today’s reading? Any discipleship/shepherding thoughts? Any thoughts on church life from the first section? Let us know in the comments section.

Soon, you’ll see another important key to discipleship: discipline.

Posted by: Todd Thomas

January 22, 2012

Today you should read: 1 Corinthians 6:1-11

Is there a difference between “eternal security” and “assurance of salvation?”

“Eternal security” means that when people have entered into a personal relationship with God by receiving His forgiveness and surrendering to Him as Lord, then they are unconditionally rescued forever.  In other words, they are “once saved and always saved” because the sin that separated them from God has been forgiven—past, present, and future.

“Assurance of salvation” occurs when a person knows that he or she is saved.  People can have a confident trust that they are actually in a relationship with God.  Assurance of salvation is contingent upon current and active faith in Christ’s completed work on the cross.  One can be eternally secure, yet not have an assurance of his or her own salvation.  Assurance is based upon a person believing and living in light of what God has said about eternal security.

I think Paul gets at these two concepts a little bit in this passage.  Paul had already told the Corinthians that they were acting like the world by quarreling and looking exactly like the world.  And in this passage, the “busting of chops” continued as Paul called out the church for taking each other to court (1 Cor. 6:1-8).  He basically said that is what the world would do and that they should act differently.  They were defrauding and wronging each other by doing these things.

Then, in verses 9-10, Paul said the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God.  He made a list of sinful people who will not inherit the kingdom of God.  In other words, those who live like the world will not go to heaven.  Many of the sins that he listed here are often incorrectly labeled as “big sins”, but I believe Paul is making the connection with verses 1-8 by saying that those “Christians” who are willing to take their brothers to court are no different than all of sinners listed in verses 9-10.

Verse 11 brings it home for us.  Paul said that some of the Corinthians formally were sinners and of the world also, but they had been washed, sanctified, and justified through Jesus.  In other words, some were rescued and saved from the penalty of sin.  Therefore, those true believers were eternally secure.

On the other hand, some of these “believers” or “Christians” who claim to be “saved” were acting like the world and unrepentantly continuing to do things a true believer wouldn’t do.  I think what Paul is trying to drive home here is that those people should not have assurance of salvation.  In other words, people who claim to be a Christian, but look no different than non-Christians should really question whether or not they have ever accepted salvation.

True salvation results in eternal security, which should result in a transformed life, which will help give a confident assurance of salvation.

Do you have eternal security?  Do you have an assurance of salvation?  If not, let’s talk about it.

Posted by: Rich Duffield