Wird Geladen

Lessons from my own bible study

1 Corinthians 1:18-19

18 For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
    and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

It’s hard being a Christian. We do/say/believe things that society (natural man) says is weird (pathetic, lame, ridiculous, froo-froo), and then we get weird looks for doing it. There’s no question or argument that Christian values are not in line with the mainstream, and there’s always resistance to going against the mainstream.

Fear of man keeps a lot of Christians from being as expressive, as open, about their life, thoughts, opinions, and values as most people are. Nobody has a problem complaining to a stranger about how drunk they got last night. But imagine the looks you’d get if you said “God told me last night that I need to stop doing sit-ups.” I’m working to come to a place where I trust God’s judgement enough to not care if I get treated strangely for acting like I’m in love with Him. That will be a new kind of freedom in which God’s power can really go to work in my life.

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This is part of the Word of Wisdom Series

Colossians 1:9

9 For this reason, since the day we heard it, we have not ceased praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s[a] will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding

Because Jesus declares “ask and you shall receive”,  asking for something in Christ’s name carries an inherent expectation. In prayer, asking is the same as receiving- in specific claiming what is already ours. At a library you know you can take any book you want, and it’s the librarian’s job to go and get that book for you. Mathematically, asking for a book at a library is  the same as getting the book- it’s claiming what is already available to you.

This power originates from a spirit of submissiveness on the part of God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit. In Colossians 3:18-4:1 Paul instructs all Christians to be serviceable and submissive to one another. It blows my mind to think that that same Spirit of submissiveness which calls us to serve one another is alive- personified, even- in the Holy Spirit. We Christians work together to support and serve one another; Jesus and the Holy Spirit are absolutely not exempt from that expectation. This is why Peter calls Jesus the paragon of serviceable shepherding (1 Peter 5:4). 

We can let the Spirit serve us. We can allow Jesus to wash our feet and give of himself for our edification. It is only fair, if we are committed to serving Him, that Jesus should serve us. He doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who would do one great deed of service and then be like “OK I did my part- now work for me for free for the rest of eternity.” Christianity is a partnership, a marriage, between us and God. I’m going to work on growing my expectations of the Holy Spirit. I encourage us all to stretch the limits of our understanding of give-and-take with the Holy Spirit, and watch how fulfilling the relationship can truly be. 

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This is part of the Word of Wisdom Series

1 Corinthians 12:7-8

7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit,

These are just two examples, obviously- a metaphor for the entire range of unique gifts available from the God catalogue. But see how these two people got gifts that by themselves are useless? What good is wise advice if you’ve got no one to give it to? What good is a piece of juicy new information if you don’t know what its significance is?

Christians must interact with each other. We cannot thrive, cannot exist, would die entirely, without church. We’re each a little piece, completely indispensable but completely useless on our own. God’s plan is for us to work together to bring Heaven to Earth, and he does this by making sure no one can get anywhere on his own. It’s quite humbling.

It’s quite nerve-wracking, especially for me who is already reticent about my faith, and too lazy to go to church most days. But this verse is a call to action! I understand that the next move I need to make is to invest in a church- I won’t grow another inch until I do. I’ve grown so much in the last few months, I can’t imagine what’ll happen to me when I finally hitch into a church body and get activated.

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This is part of the Word of Wisdom Series

1 Corinthians 2:12

Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.

First, I doubt it’s possible to overstate the value of understanding. Notice the wording here. Why does Paul say “understand the gifts”? Why doesn’t he say “USE the gifts”? Because understanding really means POWER. “We receive the spirit of God so that we might have the power to use the gifts he gives us.” You want power? Gain understanding. Understanding lets us see issues in new ways. If we can see our problems from many angles, then we can find their weaknesses, their fake walls that make them appear substantial- and take control. Evil’s power is in darkness. Ours is in understanding.

Identify a problem you’ve been struggling with. Have you actually tried to understand the problem? Or have you only tried to solve the problem? Set yourself down to understanding your problem. Give it a good think. What does the problem boil down to? What would it take to overcome? Ask the Holy Spirit for a word. Look up ten scripture verses about that word. Write them onto index cards and carry one around in your pocket. Meditate on it. Talk to God. Engage with your problem through the Holy Spirit. Ask God for understanding of the issue. All the aspects of the Living God are already inside of you and me- there’s no point in asking for help, or strength, or guidance. Seek understanding! Take Power! Seek understanding, actively, earnestly, with total abandon seek to understand the things that you think you want, and the Spirit of God will teach you what it is you’re truly after, and how to use the power you already have to achieve it. The Power of God yields fruit.

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This is part of the Word of Wisdom Series

1 Corinthians 2:11

Is there anyone who can understand his own thoughts except his own inner spirit? In the same way, no one can know the thoughts of God except God’s Spirit.

This effectively splits us into two parties in one brain. The Conscious Man who’s having thoughts he doesn’t understand, and The Spirit of the man, who understands and interprets the thoughts. That’s comforting. At least SOMEBODY understands me.

Unfortunately this translation of this verse gives no guarantee that the spirit will clue the idiot side in.

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This is part of the Word of Wisdom Series

1 Corinthians 2:10

10 But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets.

At the time of Paul’s missions, the resurrection was fresh. It brought along Pentecost, and the deliverance of the Holy Spirit to the hearts of all humanity. If Paul was fired up about any one thing, it would have been the resurrection of Jesus, the abolition of the Law which heretofore damned all humanity, our salvation from that damnation by what was, I’m sure, the completely unpredicted, uncharacterized, misunderstood grace of God. People would not have understood the opportunity it gave us to go into the Cave of Wonders and find totally new, hidden, secret, miraculous treasures of God. That is, people would not have understood the opportunity God’s grace gives us humans for growth and progress in understanding. Unfortunately, they still don’t. That progress has stalled over the last 2000 years, and we’re still caught up on the whole salvation through grace through faith thing.

The focus of Paul’s whole ministry is that Jesus was resurrected, exactly like he said, so therefore he is to be trusted as a demonstration of God’s Power and faithfulness. What this told the early Christians is, “apparently God doesn’t work exactly like we’ve been thinking lo these thousand years. Apparently God has forgiveness, and grace, and unconditional love in His heart. Apparently He doesn’t want us to die. Apparently He’s personally, deeply, lovingly involved in our lives and maturation. Apparently he’s our father…” The thing Paul understood about the teaching power of the Holy Spirit wasn’t just some kind of self-improvement wisdom. It wasn’t a wisdom that helped clarify a lot of problems and questions the learned had been struggling with for years. It wasn’t good to know, privileged information, truth for truth’s sake. The wisdom that Paul understood was: the dynamic of our relationship with God has changed. Our lives mean something new now that Jesus has died and come back from the dead. The development of humanity has had a complete saltation, and it all has to do with Jesus Christ, his death and resurrection, his ministry of truth and understanding, and the Holy Spirit whom he poured out onto all of us so that we could begin to live in this new way. We know something you don’t, which is that we are now alive.

Now the name of that life is Slavation. The source of that life is Salvation. Without being saved from the Law, we could not live. We would indeed have to keep on living to avoid sin, living to fulfill the law. But with the Law abolished, we can live to fulfill God’s purpose for us. We no longer have to have God come down and bless exceptional men. We no longer take our orders in solitary, mysterious bursts. Every moment of our lives can be connected to God, who before could have nothing to do with us because we were sinful, unclean, and not fit to be in His presence! The dynamic of our relationship changed when Jesus rose from the dead because it tore down the curtain, turning us into creatures of love instead of creatures of sin, putting us into direct contact with our Maker, the one and only God who has the power, and wisdom, and knowledge, and love, and passion, and reality to deal with our lives in a truthful, meaningful, fulfilling way. The gift of Slavation is not “not damnation”. The gift of salvation is God himself, bridged by the Holy Spirit, “who searches all things, even the depth of God.” 

For my entire Christian life I’ve been taught the gospel in relation to “Your sins are absolved. Be glad and grateful you’re not going to Hell.” What we teach people when we teach the salvation from sin in church is the very nature of sin. What’s happening when we focus our teaching on how great it is not to have to pay for our sins anymore is that we get a great, deep understanding of Sin. Why are we studying sin in church? Sin ought to be the last thing on our minds! It doesn’t exist, technically; on paper there is no such thing. The law which defined and tallied sin no longer exists as of the resurrection of Jesus. So why do we go to sunday school to talk about a thing which is no longer relevant? It’s a terrible tragedy, a complete halt of progress, that our churches today focus on sin-and-Jesus’s-lack-thereof. We are meant to be mining the depths of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God, wherein the Holy Spirit will be our guide because he KNOWS the depths, he’s searched them and mapped them and will bring us through with Power and Glory. We ought to be much farther, as a race, in our relationship with God, than we are right now. We’ve had 2000 years, and we spent every one of them looking over our shoulder saying “I’m glad I avoided damnation!”

Now is the time for us to forget about sin. Now is the time for us to move forward in our relationship with God. Now is the time to take things to the next level. The days of Jesus’s ministry and the evangelical missions of Paul marked a radical shift in the course of Human development. They were the period of time in which God came available, freely, completely, biblically, personally, to each and every one of us. What is the next step in our development and understanding? Where are we going as Christians? What are we learning that will help us to stop fighting wars? Will help us to stop dying of disease? Will help us to stop polluting this gorgeous planet of ours? Will help us to stop worrying, crying, destroying, sabotaging, sinning, hurting, wondering? Does that sound like Heaven to you? Heaven is meant to be brought to Earth. We’re meant to bring ourselves up to God. The way I see it, we’ve been waiting 2000 years for Him to come down to us. If this section of Paul’s letter makes one thing clear, it’s that God is an actionable God, and we are meant to be actionable followers of Him. Paul explains here that we have the Power, given by God, through understanding, enacted by the Holy Spirit, to change the world completely, just like Jesus did. We have God’s power to stop wickedness, evil, unfortunate circumstances, sadness, badness of all kinds. We have the power to enact understanding in the hearts and minds of everyone we meet, and collectively raise the human consciousness to the next level of life, which will include none of the bad, and more of the Spirit of God. It starts with ourselves. God does reveal that power. He does give that understanding to those who see demonstrations of it, are hungry to learn, and willing to sacrifice whatever stupid Gods, rulers, and wisdom they chase around in exchange for solid substance, a joy which will anchor us in reality and understanding, make us feel like kids again, and raise us up from the dead. There’s no use working for salvation. Or trying to keep up with salvation. It’s over. It’s done. Move on. Ask God what’s next, and work for that instead.

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This is part of the Word of Wisdom Series

1 Corinthians 2:9

But as it is written: What eye did not see and ear did not hear, and what never entered the human mind– God prepared this for those who love Him.

There’s indiscretion about exactly which verse Paul’s quoting here. This is what Isaiah 64:4 says: “From ages past no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who works for those who wait for Him.” Both this and Paul’s quotation describe a God who achieves, by actionable works, the purposes of those who are willing to devote their time to understanding Him. He’s unlike any other God, the Gods we currently devote our attention to- money, celebrities, materials, sex, jobs, trendy science discoveries, video games, passions- and the princes (v.8) who are exalted by our civilization today. He’s superior to the torrent of knowledge, wisdom, and understanding the Information Age offers us. He is the only God who will do what he says, and achieve what He wills. “Look anywhere you want, you won’t find a God who works.” 

The wisdom of God is ours. It’s prepared for us, designed for our improvement and betterment and to make us into the Soldiers of Christ we were born to be. It’s free, it’s available, and it’s only to be had by investing ourselves into Christian communities where God is being sought and learning for ourselves. The machinations of Man are not going to unveil the mysteries of God. Watching people and asking their opinion on things is not going to lead to wisdom. Only watching God will reveal His presence and character. Only the demonstrations of God’s power will show Him to us. And then, when our hearts are hungry to understand what we’ve just seen, only study of the Word will feed us. Looking for answers anywhere else is just chasing after the wind. It will come to nothing. For only God is real, only God is solid, only God will realify us and solidify us, so that we can be USEFUL to Him in demonstrating His love and power to others.

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This is part of the Word of Wisdom Series

1 Corinthians 2:7-8

7 But we speak God’s wisdom, secret and hidden, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

“None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory (v.8).” A different translation calls them “The princes of this age”. It’s kind of an insinuation about the quality of our role models. Paul seems to be saying, “Your celebrities, the princes and authority figures, the people you give your time and effort into obsessing over- the people on TV, the glamorous job in this or that industry, the address you wish you could say you lived at, they lead to nothing. You’re following the wrong horse, because their flashy gold or lavish lives or book smarts or accomplishments or skills or nice features are not leading them or you toward God. In fact they’re actively working against Godliness by distracting your mind from fulfillment. They’re crucifying the Lord of Glory, as are we all, every time we choose wickedness over God.”

Compare that to the power of the wisdom which comes from God. “Which God decreed for our glory”, meaning our glorification- literally our improvement. I’m all about self improvement. I’m bad at mental math and analytical thinking. I wish I were better with numbers, less forgetful, more detail oriented, and focused. I wish my brain worked a lot better than it does, lets put it that way. I understand now that God is the road to my self improvement. More than these mind-sharpening apps and self-help books I’ve got, God can provide actual change at the foundational level. Our improvement is actualized by the power of God. Just since beginning this Word of Wisdom series I’m not forgetting things anymore. Little details don’t escape my notice, and I make fewer and fewer stupid mistakes. I don’t even get distracted as much. This is because I know I’m growing. When I forget something, I pray to God, “Thank you, God, for improving me away from such stupid mistakes. I know that next time my mind will be clearer and your wisdom will make me that much more capable. I’m getting better, God, by your Power.” This is working because I’m choosing to go where I know wisdom exists, and away from Death and Destruction. I’m turning down temptation to sin and devote my mind to frivolous matters (TV princes and the ruling wisdom of my day, for example). The improvement I see in myself is a demonstration of God’s power for everyone to see.

And not so I would be glorified, but so I would be improved. So that I can get prepared to use His power. I started this whole series because I wanted to know God’s will for my life. Wouldn’t that make the job search/city search easier if I knew where God wanted me to go? But we need to be useful in order to be used. In order to find out what God’s will for my life is, I first need to be capable of fulfilling that will. The wisdom of God teaches me everything I need to know so that I can become mature, powerful, and capable of achieving my potential. Because we need to be capable, trustworthy, of using the power. No one gets the power of God who isn’t of the right spirit to use it.  That’s why it is “Secret and hidden”. And until I understand the fear of God, His will for me is to seek and find that understanding wholeheartedly.

God can’t be glorified until we’re glorified. We cannot have God’s power until we understand what it’s for. We do not get God’s power until we seek Him. And then it WORKS.

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This is part of the Word of Wisdom Series

1 Corinthians 2:6

6 We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.

What this is telling me is that we always need to keep prioritized. In learning about our goals, our careers, our loves and hopes and dreams, our search for God’s will- wisdom in all areas ultimately comes from God. Never from the mouths of men. Be patient with people who give advice, but be careful whose advice you take. Prioritizing our relationship with God will lend clarity, insight, and potential to every  endeavor. 

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This is part of the Word of Wisdom Series

1 Corinthians 2:4-5

4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.

Practically, Paul was invoking the power of God to accomplish his goal. He wasn’t relying on God’s wisdom, which he certainly had lots of. He wasn’t relying on what he had learned, or discerned, or anything the Spirit had taught him. He only used what he knew empirically: the power of God will work to my end. It’s the difference between saying “My sword is sharp” and cutting something with your sword. We, too, can pull out the power of God. It’s there in the depths of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge which are already inside of us. We too can yield it for direct, active, visible results in our lives. Paul did not use words. He used God. He attacked his problems head on, wisely basing his ministry on the confidence that when he pulled out his product to do the job, it would work. And not just work, it would amaze. He’s freakin Billy Mayes with Jesus.

What I’m saying is, when we’ve got an issue, or a problem, or something we need God’s help with, we don’t need to keep chanting “God knows how to fix it! God knows the answer!” Get at it and use the power of God to fix it! Our faith is based on God’s POWER. Use it.

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This is part of the Word of Wisdom Series

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