February 18, 2011 Devotion Sharing

Submitted by Will Sam, Gracepoint Berkeley

Hebrews 5:11-14; 1 Corinthians 3:1-3

What two categories of Christians do these passage mention? What characterizes each?

These two passages show that there are two different categories of Christians.  There are those who are “mere infants in Christ” and those that are “mature” or “spiritual.”

Those who are infants of Christ have the following characteristics.  They are slow to learn; they need to be taught the elementary truths of God’s word all over again and they are not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.  Apostle Paul goes further, in 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 to point out that the infants in Christ are actually worldly; given over to jealousy, quarreling among the believers, and acting like mere men.

The other category of Christians, those who are mature; they are characterized by those who have taken in the solid spiritual food and have, through constant use, have trained themselves to be able to distinguish good from evil.

1 Corinthians 6:1-8

How does having lawsuits among believers represent “complete defeat?”

I think one of the first things to notice is the fact that Apostle Paul makes it clear that there are two categories of people – believers and non-believers.  Earlier, in 1 Corinthians 5, Apostle Paul talks about judging non-believers or holding them up to the standards of believers, and how foolish that would be.  Here, in these verses, Apostle Paul is again addressing the interaction between believers.

For two believers to take their disputes to the courts shows that these believers obviously do not believe that their matter can be handled in the context of God’s community, the church.  Apostle Paul makes it clear that disputes between believers should be brought up before the members of the church, the leaders, as Apostle Paul makes it clear that the judgment should be before “the saints.”  As believers, our actions are dictated by God’s Word, first and foremost.  We stand in judgment of the Word; by God’s laws and the morality that is established through God’s direction, and we are even called to judge the world.

Given that distinction; that higher calling, for believers to then take their disputes outside of the church, would be much akin to a family taking their dispute public, to Judge Judy on television or something like that.  That’s a family matter, that ought to be decided by the family members involved, by the elders of the clan, as the family gathers together to discuss, determine and decide the next course of action.  To take it public would bring public shame to the family because it clearly shows that the members of the family do not even trust their family members within.  Take that analogy and replace family with church, and the outside world is actually those that we’re trying to reach out to, to shine a light to, to draw in, then it’s clear that to bring these disputes public is simply disgraceful and a sign of ultimate defeat.

What does vs. 5 reveal about the Corinthian church, and Apostle Paul’s expectation of them?

Apostle Paul makes it clear in verse 5 that he fully expects them to be wise enough to judge the disputes among their believers.  Apostle Paul has the full expectation that these members ought to be wise enough, discerning enough, and capable of hearing the issues that were presented between the believers and to be able to pass judgment on the situation.

We get a glimpse into the picture of what the church should be from Apostle Paul’s astonished response to lawsuits among believers at Corinth.  Describe this picture.

Apostle Paul’s astonished response to these lawsuits among believers provides us a clear picture of what a church should be like.  Apostle Paul was calling out the Corinthian church and simply saying – you guys are dropping the ball on this one (of course, in much more serious tones).  Apostle Paul’s vision of the church was simply different than what was being lived out.

The church was supposed to be a community of believers that would act and look very much like a big family.  When siblings fight, argue, and get into disputes, they bring the matter before their parents.  The parents, the uncles and aunties (who get consulted), the grandparents (who remind the parents that they were once also like this perhaps), all chime in and the parents finally come down with their decision.  And the siblings are called into order through their obedience to their parents.  All of this is done out of love and concern for each other.

In the same way, the church is supposed to act in this way.  They are the chosen ones, the royal priesthood, the people belonging to God, the community of believers who would garner the favor of the people, as God adds to their number daily.   This community was to be that City on a Hill, the community of strength and love; strong enough to draw others in so that they might experience the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Within that community, Apostle Paul clearly thought that they should be able to discern matters of dispute from within.  What is clear is that Christians were not supposed to bring their matters to outsiders, to non-believers and the like, and to “air the dirty laundry” to everyone else.  Why?  They weren’t supposed to do this because (1) they should handle it within and (2) it provides a poor witness to the world.  As we bring our disputes outside, what are we telling the world?  We end up telling them that we’re incapable of handling our own disputes, and that we’re no different than anyone else.  And while disputes are natural in every day interactions, our decisions as to what to do – to bring those disputes before God-honoring and God-fearing elders, to other members of the community; this is the clear distinction.

APPLICATION

How does today’s text apply to you?

I think this text simply challenges the notion of what church is and what it is not.  I did not grow up in the church, but I certainly had my own understanding of what church was supposed to be like simply through my interaction with other Christians and through the media.  I had always thought church was just like a civic organization, like, the Elks Club or the Lions Club, not that I actually know what those do.  Church was a place where people gather on Sundays, listen to singing, a preacher preaching, and then they gather outside for donuts, bagels and coffee after.  Church wasn’t supposed to be a place where we let others into our lives too deeply; that was reserved for just family.

Apostle Paul’s picture of the church essentially wipes away that flabby thinking.  Apostle Paul’s understanding of the church is SO much grander, so much more involving, and so much more challenging than anything I could imagine.  And this is the church that we’re supposed to be building, the church I need to be praying for, and constantly modeling and recalibrating myself to.  These passages are a healthy reminder to me about what is the proper role of the church in the lives of believers.


Submitted by Jammy Yang, Gracepoint Riverside

Hebrews 5:11-14; 1 Corinthians 3:1-3

What two categories of Christians do these passage mention? What characterizes each?

The two categories of Christians mentioned in these two passages is one who is infant like and the other mature like.

Infant Christian:

–  Needs to be taught the elementary truths of God’s word all over again.

–  Not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.

–  Worldly

–  Jealousy and quarreling

Mature Christian:

–  Someone who constantly uses the elementary truths and they’ve trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

1 Corinthians 6:1-8

How does having lawsuits among believers represent “complete defeat?”

–  Having lawsuits among believers represents complete defeat because there is a sense that not even Christians can work out there own issues.  If Christians can’t work out their issues amongst themselves then how are we to “judge” the world?  We become to preoccupied with issues that we should be able to deal on our own and therefore too busy to think about the world around us and what we need to.   When we engage in this kind of act we have become poor witnesses to the world and we defeat ourselves.

What does vs. 5 reveal about the Corinthian church, and Apostle Paul’s expectation of them?

Verse 5 reveals that the Corinthian church has a lot of members who have issues with one another and that these issues are causing rifts to the point that they are going to law against each other.  It also reveals that they don’t have anyone to mediate and to take charge over the members and their issues.    This verse also reveals that the church is neglecting and doing a disservice to the unbelievers around them.

Apostle Paul expects them to have someone to able to judge and mediate between their issues amongst themselves and not in front of unbelievers especially.

We get a glimpse into the picture of what the church should be from Apostle Paul’s astonished response to lawsuits among believers at Corinth.  Describe this picture.

The picture of the church we get in these passages is a church that ought to be able to “judge” the world.  It’s a church that supposed to be truth and light to the world.  Apostle Paul finds this church lacking this kind of power because they are too busy bringing up issues and taking one another to court. AP doesn’t expect the church not to have issues, but to have the understanding that these issues ought to be brought before those that are wiser in the church, those who are older and in leadership.  The picture of the church is that there is an existence of older presence and ones who have wisdom and judgment and are able to mediate.  Also in this picture are members who have the confidence and comfort to actually bring it before those in the church to allow them to speak into their lives and to judge their issues.  The picture of this church is also a church that is sensitive to the fact that there are unbelievers in their midst and that their presence is precious and that they are to love them and be examples to them.

APPLICATION

How does today’s text apply to you?

As a Christian, a member of the church, I recognize again that that I have a responsibility to the world around me and that I’m not a “mere man,” but a follower of Christ.  This means growth is necessary for my spiritual life.  I need to be always moving from being spiritually infantile to spiritually mature.  Will I know when I become mature?  I’m not sure, but I need to always have the attitude that I need to be fed and move towards solid food.   If I become satisfied with milk, like my little girl Ellie was she’s not going to grow.  In fact for awhile she just wanted milk and so she wasn’t growing.  But now she’s moving towards solid food and she’s growing now and has a cute little belly too, but it took awhile and it took constant effort and for her to be willing to try.  The more she tried the more she took it and the more she was growing.   For me I need to feed myself the word of God, take in the basic truths and to go from there and dig deeper into my life, to constantly use the word of God to reveal truths about myself so that I can struggle, repent and grow.  There is a world of unbelievers to be won over to show that Christ is real and relevant and I need to have that kind of wisdom to be able to distinguish between good from evil, not only for an unbelievers sake but for the sake of those who God is entrusted me to love, care for and guide.


Hebrews 5:11-14; 1 Corinthians 3:1-3

What two categories of Christians do these passages mention? What characterizes each?

Infants in Christ and the mature. Those who are still infants in Christ are characterized by being slow to learn, not being much acquainted with God’s Word. B/c they’re not used to thinking about it, they forget the basic truths of God’s Word and have to keep relearning it. They are limited in their understanding of righteousness b/c they don’t live it out. Their understanding of Christian life is more theoretical than real. They are worldly, getting jealous and quarreling about things that non-Xians would. They still care about being first, getting ahead of others, being better than others, having nice possessions, winning the argument.

Those who are mature understand their sinful nature and therefore the need to fight against it constantly with God’s Word. They depend on God’s Word daily, use it to struggle against their sins, work to have Scripture replace their worldly thoughts and patterns. They try to obey God’s Word, and as they do so, they are ready to take in more of God’s Word and obey in deeper ways. They are spiritual in the sense that the gospel has become more and more central in their lives. They are not ruled by selfish concerns, no longer quarreling about petty things, but live above the things that concern “mere men,” relating to others through the gospel.

1 Corinthians 6:1-8

How does having lawsuits among believers represent “complete defeat”?

Believers should be characterized by loving each other as Christ loved them. To “win” in Christian life is to let the gospel take over completely, to die so that others may live. Thus, having lawsuits means that the gospel has not made any difference in their lives. They are just the same as unbelievers. The fact that they have been forgiven of their sins and saved from eternal death has not changed their perspective on their lives or the way they relate to others. They are just as greedy, selfish, grasping as unbelievers; still needing to win the argument. They are not even trying to resolve their conflict; they’re determined to gain at the other person’s loss. They aren’t trying to resolve their conflict in a way to honor God but bringing it to a non-Xian court to get a solution that would benefit themselves.

What does v.5 reveal about the Corinthian church, and Apostle Paul’s expectation of them?

It reveals that this worldly culture was rampant in the Corinthian church. The extent of their worldliness was such that they didn’t even have a sense of problem about the fact that lawsuits were going on among them. There didn’t seem anyone, or not many strong spiritual leaders, to assert authority against the worldly way in which these believers were going about dealing with their disputes with each other. A.Paul’s expectation of them was that simply by being Christian, they should think and relate differently. Knowing the truth of the gospel should open their eyes to true wisdom and how to deal with conflicts in a new way.

We get a glimpse into the picture of what the church should be from Apostle Paul’s astonished response to lawsuits among believers at Corinth.  Describe this picture.

The church should have a completely different value system and way of relating to each other, as their eyes are opened to see things as they really are. Since they have been saved from their former way of life (competing with each other, needing to be first, needing to amass material wealth, wanting to lord it over others), they should no longer have anything to do with such things and consider it undesirable. Believers should also look to the church as the authority to guide them in every area of life. They shouldn’t compartmentalize their lives so that they let the church into only the “spiritual” areas of their lives, but seek wisdom from leaders as to how to live out every area in life.

Submitted by Nancy Cheung, Gracepoint Berkeley

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