In the teen class on Wednesday nights, we have been studying the book of 1 Corinthians. Paul is the one who established the church at Corinth, and in his first letter to the Corinthians, he is writing to them because he has received word of several problems within the congregation. He is writing to correct them because he loved them as a father loves his own child. There are several problems that Paul will address throughout the letter, however, in chapters 1-4, he is dealing with the issue of division. The source of this division was the preachers who baptized them; they were arguing which one was better. So in these four chapters, let us notice several lessons.
The church is not of this world.
The church was arguing about who was better based on who they were baptized by. They were acting like children and Paul calls them out on it. In chapter three Paul calls them both “babes” and “carnal.” They were babes in Christ and arguing over things that were physical, and not concerned with spiritual things. In 3:4 Paul says, “For when one says, ‘I am of Paul,’ and another, ‘I am of Apollos,’ are you not carnal?” The answer to Paul’s question, of course, is “yes.” This is not what the church is. It is in the world but not of the world.
God’s wisdom is better than man’s wisdom.
There are two types of wisdom in this world: God’s and man’s. In fact, Paul says that man’s wisdom considers God’s wisdom to be foolishness. But still, God’s wisdom is better. God’s wisdom has always been better and will always be better. Paul admonishes the church at Corinth to seek after the wisdom of God, even if the world considers them to be fools. Consider Paul’s words in 2:6-7a, “However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God…”.
It’s all about Christ!
The church is all about Christ. It is His body, He purchased it, He died for it, and He is the head over it. It is all about Him! The church is not about preachers, elders, deacons, teachers, etc… Although each of these play an important role, the church is not about them. When Paul writes to the Corinthians, he says in 2:2, “for I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” What would the church be like today if it made the same determination?
Man should not be exalted.
This was the problem for their division in chapters 1-4. They were lifting these preachers up and thinking that one preacher was better than another (Paul, Apollos, or Cephas). Paul spends time explaining to them that a minister is simply a steward, which is a servant, and that they are merely a tool used by God to spread the gospel. They are the medium between God and the lost. They are equal in the church and are to be appreciated for the job that they do as stewards.
Love equals discipline.
Paul is correcting them because he loves them. People today say, “true love accepts people just the way they are.” However, the Bible teaches that true love corrects, rebukes, instructs, and disciplines. Solomon said in Proverbs 13:24, “He who spares his rod hates his son. But he who loves him disciplines him promptly.” Paul assures them of his loves for them when he said in 4:14, “I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you.”
We cannot stay babes in Christ.
Just as a newborn baby naturally grows, the child of God is expected to grow spiritually. The Corinthians were not behaving as mature Christians. Paul tells them that when he first came to them he gave them milk and not the meat of the Word. And now that he is writing to them, he still must feed them with milk because they are not able to eat spiritual meat. The writer of the book of Hebrews wrote to his audience in Hebrews 5:12, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not meat.” The Corinthian Christians were not growing and maturing in their faith, and this was a problem. We cannot stay as babes in Christ. We must grow! Growth in Christ takes determination, desire, and effort. You will not grow accidentally or by mistake. You will not grow overnight. It will take planning, reading, meditation, examination, preparation, and concentration. God expects growth.
There are many more lessons that we could pull out of these four chapters, but these are the six lessons that we examined with the teens on Wednesday night. These are simple yet powerful lessons. These are lessons that every Christian must consider. I would even encourage you to read First Corinthians and search for more lessons. May God bless you in your study of His Word.