1 Corinthians

Men's Workout #18 - September 9th

OPENING DEVOTIONAL
 
Pastor Dan led us in a singing of "Across the Lands" (hymn #198). Afterwards, we went through a devotion of 1 Corinthians 3.
 
As a group, we discussed and came up with the following prepositions:

  • Ministers of the Word are God's servants; they are not authorities in and of themselves.
    • It is interesting that it is Paul who says this. He could have said that he was an apostle and therefore he was special, but he does not say that. Rather, in verse 10, Paul says that the grace of God was given to him.
    • Paul is not denigrating the role that he has - he is a "master builder." Rather, he humbly understands the role of this work, and that God is the one who gave it to him.
  • God uses men as His instruments to cause growth in men. Or, to put it another way, ministers are God's instruments.
    • An instrument in and of itself can be valuable, but if it is not being played by a skilled musician, it is impossible to appreciate its true value.
    • For those who minister, this means:
      • We are utterly dependent on the Lord. Our confidence must reside in the Lord and not in ourselves.
      • We participate in God's work, but the glory is entirely His. All recognition should be directed toward God, and not toward us. God is doing the real work, all of its substance is always God's.
      • Paul planted, Apollos watered, but ultimately it is God who causes the growth (v 5-6). It is not any work of man that can cause change in people's hearts; only God can accomplish such a thing.
  • Our work will be tested with fire.
    • We should seek to build things that are eternal, not worldly. Christian labor can be wasted and result in worthlessness if they are not built on an eternal foundation.
    • God will evaluate our work, and He will expose its true eternal worth.
    • Not everything that is done in the name of the Lord is necessarily glorifying to God. It is feasible that one could even spend a lifetime pursuing the wrong aims and building the "wrong structures." Therefore, each man must be careful how he builds his works and honors the Lord through them.
    • We can "do church" in such a way that might seem exciting on the outside, but in reality it could potentially not honor or glorify God at all. If our motivations in our service and our works are not for the aims of glorying God and filling the hearts of people with that same aim, then our works are worthless and will be burned up.
  • The wisdom of man is foolishness before God.
    • Judge your works and pursuits against this qualifier: does this glorify God?
  • The church is precious to God.
    • Factionalism, division, jealousy, strife, and competition within the church demonstrates immaturity in the faith.
    • God destroys those who destroy His church.
  • Christ is the foundation that God has already laid.
    • Jesus Christ has finished His work. His foundation has once and for all been laid, and is forever finished. It is not continually being laid down. There is no further development needed.
  • There is no glory intrinsic to man
    • The one and only true glory is God's.
    • It is moral and right for God to love His own glory, for it is incomparable to any other glory.
  • Spiritual immaturity is unnatural.
    • Believers are spiritual people, not just fleshly. Believers who live like fleshly people, therefore, are unnatural.
    • Immaturity does not exclude the process of growth, but spiritual maturity should be a rapid process that is concentrated in the early stages of one's Christian walk. A good analogy would be to compare to how an infant develops rapidly over a relatively short amount of time; in the same way, a Christian ought to develop rapidly in maturity and understanding early on in his/her walk.
  • God uses man's work to build His church.
    • God can use our work for His purposes and His glory. It can be useful and have significance!

We also discussed the following questions:

  • Verse 9 says that "we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building." Is this unique to the time and situation of apostles and laymen? Is there a distinction between apostles and the church?
    • This group of people being referred to is broader than just apostles, because Apollos is included and he was not an apostle.
    • We should understand "fellow workers" as any man who does the work of building on the foundation of Christ.
  • Verse 22 refers to "things belonging to us" (the church). How do all things belong to us?
    • Servants of God are not people to rally around; they are gifts of God to the church.
    • Benefitting from someone's ministry is not exclusive to any group of people; anybody can benefit from the ministries of any of God's servants.
    • All things in the church - the ministers, the world, life, death, present things, future things - they all culminate into a blessing of God's people for their good.
      • Similar to what is written in Romans 8, all things work together for good to those who love Him. The final good is the glorification of His redeemed people for all eternity.
    • This is why we are called "fellow workers".

MEMORY VERSES
We recited Matthew 7:13-18 together as a group.

  • Questions
    • Should there be a distinction between how we treat believers and unbelievers? (Matthew 7:12)
      • This is a principle of considering how we should treat others in general. We should treat others in the same way that we would want to be treated.
      • In general, we should always be aiming to do what is best for others. We should put ourselves in the other's shoes, yet we should not to go so far as to pamper other people either.
      • "This is the Law and the Prophets" - this statement is a corollary of the command to "love your neighbor as yourself."
      • However, there is a special attitude we should have toward fellow believers. Galatians 6:10 tells us to "do good to all people, and especially those who are of the household of the faith." This shows that there is a priority to love those in the church.

 

Next week's passage for memorization is Matthew 7:19-23.

Men's Workout #17 - September 2nd

OPENING DEVOTIONAL
 
Pastor Dan led us in a singing of "Jesus is Lord" (hymn #102). Then, he led us through a devotion of 1 Corinthians 2.
 
Some propositions that the group came up with are:

  • God reveals His power through the Holy Spirit.
  • God reveals His mind through the Holy Spirit.
  • The Holy Spirit teaches Christians.
  • God purposefully intended to reveal His wisdom to His people.
  • The wisdom in our speech and in our mind comes from God.
  • God revealed His truth through His apostles and prophets, and the church readily received and embraced it.
  • There is a difference between natural man and spiritual man.
  • There is a difference between merely knowing the truth and living by the truth.

The group then spent some time discussing the topic of knowing the truth, and trying to grasp "the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood". What kind of knowledge is this?

  • Empirically, many people can understand the truth of the gospel and yet reject it. This understanding of the gospel means that the individual has an acknowledgement or an intellectual understanding of the facts. They may perhaps also understand the personal implications of the gospel if they were to accept it to be true. In a sense, the rulers of this age could have had to this degree an understanding.
  • However, the gospel is more than mere intellectual understanding of facts. It is more, because this is a message from a speaker. In general, when there is a message from a speaker to a particular audience, that speaker has an intent with which he speaks so that his audience would understand. This intent is a crucial element of his message.
    • Sometimes we hear someone say, "I don't think you understand what I'm saying," or, "I don't think you understand what I mean."
    • Comprehension of facts does not always equate to understanding of the message's intent.
    • The gospel is not merely a bunch of facts. We must personally understand its intent from God, the speaker. And the gospel from God has a direct application to us and to our sins against God.
    • It is in this sense that people cannot understand the gospel unless God converts them and enables them. It is also in this sense that people cannot perceive the true nature of Christ's glory in the gospel apart from God opening their blinded eyes (2 Corinthians 4:3-6).
  • Can someone be a Christian and not really want to know God?
    • No! One of the natural results of knowing God is to want to understand and seek more of the Lord and to obey Him.
    • 1 John 2:3-6 says that "by this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments."
  • God has to be working in people to change them.
    • We can't fabricate conversion or rationally convince anybody to faith. What we are meant to do is to match people with God ("matches made in heaven").

CHILDREN'S VERSES

Pastor Dan went over the acronym "ABS" to help us lead our children through understanding the following:

  • AGE of 99
    • When Abram was 99 years old, God changed his name to Abraham and confirmed the timing of his son's birth through Isaac and that his name should be Isaac.
  • BIRTH
    • God enabled Sarah to conceive and give birth to Isaac.
  • SACRIFICE
    • God tested Abraham's fear/obedience toward God through his willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac.

MEMORY VERSES
 
We recited Matthew 7:7-12 as a group.

  • In verse 7, Jesus tells us to “ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you." This verse is very popular in prosperity gospel messages, but that's not the intent of what the Lord is proclaiming at all!
    • Verse 11 tells us that God gives what is good to His children. God discerns and decides what is good and bad - not our flesh!
    • In the mind of the Lord, the maximum good is God Himself.
    • The Spirit's work in a person's life is the greatest good God can provide to anybody.
    • Other Biblical arguments against the "name it and claim it" philosophy:
      • One cannot serve God and wealth (Matthew 6:24)
      • Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness - not your own kingdom (Matthew 6:33)
      • Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy (Matthew 6:19-20)

 Next week's passage for memorization is Matthew 7:13-18.

Men's Workout #9 - July 1st

OPENING DEVOTIONAL

Pastor Dan opened us up with a hymn titled “Take Time to be Holy”, words by William D. Longstaff, music by George C Stebbins.

  • At first glance, the words may sound a little corny but it’s such a good reminder to us that we need to commit time to seek the Lord, seek His word, minister to others, make friends with God’s people
  • A little bit of background: William D. Longstaff Inherited a shipping business from his parents (they were ship owners), and used his financial means to support the missions efforts of D.L. Moody and others.
  • While he led the busy life of a businessman, he had a desire to honor and glorify God with his life.
  • Let us be reminded of the practical call for people of God to exercise common sense wisdom in our walk with the Lord, namely that it takes time to build our relationship with God.

Pastor Dan then led us in a devotional of 1 Corinthians 2:1-16

  • The Wisdom of God is distinct from, and surpasses the wisdom of the world
    • There is a temptation to try to make the gospel cater to the world, so that it is acceptable to the world
    • The reality is that the gospel is other-worldly, and the wisdom of God is at odds with the wisdom of world; until God transforms the heart of a sinner, they will never comprehend (think about the audiences of Jesus’s time, even the disciples)
  • We can have great confidence in the sure truth of scripture, which is the mind of Christ (the mind of God) that the Spirit has given us as believers.
    • Whether the world understands or not does not change the truth of God’s word.
    • One example: the age of the earth. The world is not millions of years old, but thousands of years old as the genealogies of Genesis tell us.
  • The world will never understand creation, the end times, and God’s sovereign plans for history.
    • The whole world was moving towards Christ’s first coming, and now is moving towards Christ’s second coming
    • We only understand this by the revelation of God.
  • The gospel of God does not need worldly wisdom to do its work
    • Paul’s confidence is in what the Spirit can do, not confidence in his own oratory abilities.
    • This is because when the gospel of God encounters the elect, there is an amazing outcome: salvation! This is how the gospel of God is power for everyone who believes.
    • An illustration: If you’ve ever had a broken water pipe, there’s a repair kit that is a putty that consists of 2 different parts. It is initially soft and malleable but when the two parts are combined it becomes something totally different (a rock hard compound that adheres to the pipe to seal the leak)
    • All we have to do is preach the gospel in gentleness and respect, trusting that the gospel has the power to completely transform those whom God has chosen to save.
    • At the end of the day, the gospel doesn’t make sense to the world apart from the Spirit of God. But for the elect, it is understandable and produces salvation.
  • This confidence in the gospel is also seen in Paul’s ministry at Athens
    • Acts 17:16 – Paul was escorted to Athens, and as he was waiting for Silas and Timothy to join him, he observed the idolatry and preached the gospel
    • He preached while “on vacation” to “educated” people – he was in an unfamiliar city, one with a reputation of being a highly educated city, yet preached with all boldness in spite of how the Athenians responded.
    • Would we have the mind of Christ, see things as Christ would, and act as Christ would

MEMORIZATION

To summarize Matthew 5: the premise is in verse 20, “unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” and that is fleshed out throughout the chapter. The key verse in Matthew 6 is verse 1, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.” Jesus, talking to His disciples (rather than the crowds—He still presents God as their Father), makes strong contrasts between the absence of God in the Pharisees’ practices and the righteousness of believers, which is for God’s eyes only.

Our memory verses for this week, Matthew 6:1-6, are a 3-part section on hypocritical vs. God-pleasing righteousness:

  • Vv2-4: you have no reward if you practice this kind of giving to the poor. You either get the honor from men or you get the acknowledgement from God (which is what we want as believers); you can’t have it both ways
  • Vv5: all the hypocrites accomplishes with his prayer is to be seen by men
  • Vv3-4, 6: “do not let your left hand…” and “close your door and pray…in secret” not to be taken literally, as though we must do these things in a secretive manner. The point is that our motives are pure and that we live out our faith for God’s eyes only, and not be hypocrites who act like these are for God when in reality it is for men’s applause.

CHILDREN'S VERSES

Creation was easy to recount because of the seven day sequence. Adam and Eve account is more challenging to remember the specifics so Pastor Dan prepared an acronym to help with this: ACTSS for this story and COMA for the story of Cain and Abel.

Reviewing Adam and Eve – ACTSS

  1. Adam and Eve
  2. Command
  3. Temptation
  4. Seed
  5. Sent out

Some general notes on the handouts: Square brackets are things that you’re saying as you’re leading them along, text in bold are quotes, and the bold text is italicized when it’s paraphrased

Notes on ACTSS:

  • Command – the command is a positive command, not a prohibitive one. It’s like Adam and Eve had a buffet, and could eat from any tree, except for one tree (can also use the teacher’s chair analogy).
  • Temptation – When you say, “she gave also to her husband…” instead of holding your hand out to the side, you can use both hands and illustrate the handing off from one hand to the other
  • Pause and take the time to make sure that the kids understand that when Adam and Eve ate the fruit they disobeyed God, that they didn’t trust God, and that this is bad.
  • Seed – some translations use the word “crush”, but in Greek it’s the same word in both instances, and that’s why NASB translates both instances as bruise. However, it is important to note that what Satan experiences is fatal; a blow to the heel is not.
  • Sent out – “sent him out…” we are point outward

Cain and Abel – COMA

  1. Children
  2. Offering
  3. Murder
  4. Ancestry

Notes on Ancestry:

  • What this passage shows us is the clear generational connection from Adam to Noah – it traces back to the very beginning of time without any gaps! This tells the Israelites (and us) that the events of the bible are not a reality that is disconnected from the real world.
  • Methuselah, Noah’s grandfather, died the year of the flood
  • Methuselah lived at the same time as Adam, the very first man who could testify of God, yet didn’t walk with God.
  • This tells you the immensity of the sin of man
  • How did Noah know God? He had a source of understanding of the truth of God, through his grandfather knew Adam.

Men's Workout #8 - June 24th

MEMORIZATION

We began this week’s workout with a midterm oral quiz through Matthew chapter 5. Each of the men took turns reciting as much of chapter 5 as they could remember in sequence. For example, one brother started the quiz by reciting the Beatitudes, and then the next person would recite as much as they could remember, and then the next person would pick up the baton and carry on as much as he could, and so on. Although there were a few stumbles, we were able to successfully make our way to the end of Matthew 5 together!

We then entered into a discussion of Matthew 5:38-48.

  • “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth”
    • Some might think that this means Christians ought never to go to court to settle certain matters. But the issue was never about never going to court. There definitely are some circumstances and matters that need to be settled in court (for example, defending the rights to freedom of religious gatherings & free speech).
    • The Scribes and Pharisees taught that restitution was just, but Jesus demanded the contrary – do not demand restitution. As Christians, we should be fine being wronged – if it is for the sake of making peace with others.
  • “Love your neighbor”
    • We know that Scripture says that we must “love your neighbor as yourself” – but this doesn’t mean that we should also hate our enemies!
    • The Pharisees taught that neighbors should be loved, but enemies should be hated. However, the Lord tells us the opposite; God wants us to be like Him and love everyone without discrimination. God fills the entire world with His goodness for everyone to benefit. He is gracious without distinction and bestows common grace to all men.
    • This teaching doesn’t trump the teaching of Paul to show priority to those of the household of faith (Galatians 6:10), but it also doesn’t mean that we can callously let unbelievers crash and burn.
    • Loving your neighbor is NOT about doing charitable work in lieu of sharing the message of repentance and salvation through Christ, nor is loving your neighbor only about meeting their physical needs. When we love our neighbor, we ought to love them wholly – we ought to meet physical needs AND spiritual needs.
  • “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect”
    • What does “perfect” mean?
      • The translation comes from the Greek word “telos”, which can be understood as “complete”, “mature”, or “fully developed”. Jesus is remarking that we ought to be mature rather than immature – for example, we ought to be like mature adults, rather than like immature children.
    • We are to be complete in our love for unbelievers in the same way that God shows His kindness and love for them. This is a call for Jesus’ followers to be complete and comprehensive in their love for everybody – not just toward the brethren or those who reciprocate love. We ought to be gracious to everybody, including unbelievers. As Christians, we must not exercise an “us vs. them” mentality.
      • God is not selective or exclusive, but generous toward everybody
    • If we take it to mean perfect holiness, then we arrive at some difficulties
      • If the word “perfect” were to be interpreted and understood as “flawless” or “without error”, it would mean that none of us could ever reach the absolute perfection and holiness of God, and we therefore would never be able to fulfill Jesus’ direction.
      • Also, some things that we must obey in order to be perfectly holy do not really apply to God. For example, if we are to be perfect, we must be free from lust, abstain from divorce & remarriage, etc. But none of these apply to God Himself. There are also authorized acts of God that we cannot perfectly emulate as finite, limited creatures. Therefore, it would be a stretch to consider Jesus’ command to be perfect as a call to emulate God’s nature and behavior exactly in order to meet God’s standard of righteousness.
    • The Scriptures still teach that God is holy and we fall short of His glory (Romans 3:23), but this verse in Matthew may not be the most appropriate to use in affirming this truth. We should exercise caution when applying this verse to mean all men are condemned if they cannot attain to the standard of perfect sinlessness in this life. However, we can use this verse to demonstrate to someone that they fall short of the perfect love of God that He has for everybody.

DEVELOPING PROPOSITIONS

We spent the rest of our time practicing the development of propositions. Pastor Dan selected a chapter in the New Testament, and we spent a few minutes developing propositions independently. Afterward, we shared our propositions with the larger group.

Mark 2

  • Jesus has authority to forgive sins
  • Jesus rewards those who seek Him in faith
  • Jesus knows the thoughts of our hearts
  • Jesus is God and has equal authority to perform miracles and forgive sins
  • People follow Jesus and want to hear His every word
  • The healing of the paralytic was unique and something people had never seen before
  • Jesus is God
  • Jesus sees faith

1 Corinthians 1

  • No man can boast before God in and of himself alone
    • God used the unexpected things of the world to nullify the boasting of men before God
  • We are enriched in all things through Christ
  • Jesus will confirm us as blameless to the end
  • God is faithful
  • Christians should have no divisions amongst them; instead, they should be of the same mind and judgment
  • The word of the cross (the gospel) is the power of God for those who are being saved
  • The gospel equalizes all Christians
  • The wisdom of God is greater than the wisdom of man
  • Christians can boast in the Lord only
  • Paul encouraged unity among God’s people
    • How do we encourage unity?
      • Engage with one another
      • Celebrate diversity of viewpoints but have them rooted in Christ
      • Have intentional conversations with one another