Knowers, Growers, and ShowersNovember 14, 2016 at 2:04 pm | Posted in Biblical farming, I Corinthians | 4 Comments
Tags: 1 Corinthians 3, carnal Christians, childishness, Christian maturity, church, commentary on 1 Corinthians, factions, Jesus Christ, Sunday School lessons on 1 Corinthians
The Knows sometimes behave like Know-Nots. This was another one of the chief problems in the church of Corinth. In I Corinthians Chapter 2 Paul had defended his method of preaching and the message he preached. In Chapter 3 he once again takes up the problem of factions and fighting among the church members. He ties the ideas together by addressing the accusation that his message (the Gospel) and his method (simple preaching) were too simple.
And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, [even] as unto babes in Christ.
I Corinthians 3:1
Paul said that he had spoken to them very simply with a very elementary version of the message because they were obviously babies. You may have heard the term “carnal Christians” or maybe not. It was very much in vogue for a while, but in more recent times it has come under attack. On one side are those who say every professing Christian who lives carnally must still be considered a true Christian because of his profession. On the other side are those who say that the profession of those who live carnally must be false. I Corinthians Chapter 3 has nothing kind to say about carnal Christians, but it certainly proves that there is such a thing (“brethren” who are “carnal”).
I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able [to bear it], neither yet now are ye able.
I Corinthians 3:2
Milk is good for babies, but, whether good or not, it is necessary because it is all babies can handle. Basic Christian doctrine can be both milk (for baby Christians) and meat (for mature Christians), but there is also a sense in which it can be seen as needing to be controlled by the givers of the milk rather than offered freely and received according to maturity level by the receivers of milk. The Roman Catholic church grew apostate partly over this doctrine, known as the Disciplina Arcani, the doctrine of the “hidden essence.” Lay people shouldn’t be trusted, they say, with the unadulterated Word of God. God says otherwise.
For ye are yet carnal: for whereas [there is] among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?
I Corinthians 3:3
Verse 3 sounds as if was written as a scolding – albeit a scolding-in-love. “Divisions” especially speaks of a spirit of “side-choosing” – factions or “parties.” Such divisions are not only troublesome among the church, and not only irritating and time-consuming for the leadership and those caught in the middle, but they ruin the testimony of the Church of Christ. Why would an outsider seeking an earthly representation of the Kingdom of Christ want to join your local church assembly if the members “walked like men,” meaning they lived just like every other worldly, non-Christian person? The distinction here is not a literal distinction between immature children and mature adults, but between regenerated spiritual believers who should be united around sound doctrine, and ungodly pagans who squabble childishly over personal recognition and preferences.
For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I [am] of Apollos; are ye not carnal?
I Corinthians 3:4
Can you hear the sing-song connotation of childishness in Verse 4 as each petty party-member calls out his or her favorite church leader by name? Paul tries to put a stop to it in Verse 5.
Who then is Paul, and who [is] Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?
I Corinthians 3:5
Paul, who, among all his virtues, really stands out for his humility, is not being falsely modest when he denigrates his own personality as being completely unworthy of any party allegiance, and he illustrates this with a familiar Bible example: a vineyard or a farmer’s field.
I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.
I Corinthians 3:6-7
Planting and watering are menial tasks compared with the power of God, Who actually gives the increase. Charles Hodge, in his commentary on I Corinthians, wrote that the Holy Spirit’s point here is, “Ministers are nothing.”
Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.
I Corinthians 3:8
Not only is the work of Christian ministers remedial and replaceable from God’s perspective, but their personalities are in a sense consumed corporately into the same goal: the fulfillment of the Owner’s plans and desires.
For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, [ye are] God’s building.
I Corinthians 3:9
We are both the tools and the building. We are what God uses, and we are supposed to be the habitation in which He is pleased to dwell and show His glory. Remember, the Knows have only received their “know-how” purely as a gift.
Growth requires different types of workers (diversity), but diversity requires unity (working toward the same goal). Unity requires humility.
According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
I Corinthians 3:10
We can be “wise masterbuilders,” but we must build on the foundation already laid, and we have to “take heed” to be careful how we build. We can put our “wisdom” to use in building relationships or even just gaining an audience, but we can’t deviate from the foundation of Christ or the foundation of His Person and work in the Gospel any more than a door framer can frame the door 30 feet from the slab, or than the cabinetry workers can build cabinets in mid-air above the slab.
For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
I Corinthians 3:11
The beauty of God’s building is a byproduct of its strength. Its foundation is Christ and the Truth about Himself. This is the “rock” upon which He builds His church.
When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
The building must have the right foundation, and only the right doctrine (precious jewels and materials) must be used to build it.
Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
I Corinthians 3:12
Gold, silver, and precious stones like granite and marble were used in temples, but wood for the doors and posts, hay for the walls, and stubble or straw for the roof were used in common houses.
Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.
I Corinthians 3:13
The day of the Lord will be revealed by Jesus appearing in fire. It will be a time of harsh testing, and then the wood, hay, and stubble will burn, and the gold and silver and precious stones will be purified. False teaching will be revealed. False doctrine will be exposed. There will be no disputing or confusion in that day of fiery judgment.
I. Knowers (I Corinthians 3:1-4)
A. New believers feed on Bible facts.
B. Mature believers feed on Bible doctrine.
II. Growers (I Corinthians 3:5-9)
A. Growth requires diversity.
B. Diversity requires unity.
C. Unity requires humility.
III. Showers (I Corinthians 3:10-13)
A. The beauty of God’s building is a by-product of its strength.
B. It must have the right foundation, and it must be built with the right materials.
C. False teaching will be revealed and false doctrine will be exposed in a future judgment.