Spiritual War Bible Studies

Spiritual War Bible Studies => First Corinthians 1-4 => Study #1 => Topic started by: Hidden In Him on October 14, 2013, 11:40:59 AM

Title: 1 Corinthians 1:1-9
Post by: Hidden In Him on October 14, 2013, 11:40:59 AM
The Testimony Of Jesus Is Confirmed By Supernatural Gifts

     The apostle Paul opened his first letter to the Corinthians by encouraging them regarding the grace of God that had been given unto them, in particular where the gifts of the Holy Spirit were concerned:

     Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ, through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, to the church of God that is in Corinth, those having been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints who have been called, together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both theirs and ours. Grace and peace [be unto you] from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
     I thank my God always concerning you, for the grace of God having been given unto you in Christ Jesus, that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all utterance and all knowledge, even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed among you, so that you are not lacking in any gift while you await the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ [from Heaven], who will also confirm you until the end, blameless in the Day of the Lord. God is faithful, through whom you were called unto the shared experience of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Corinthians 1:1-9)

     What did Paul mean by the expression the "shared experience of Jesus Christ our Lord"? The context suggests he was talking here about their shared experience of the spiritual gifts. As he told them in v.4, the grace God had given them included being enriched in Him "in all utterance and all knowledge." The word "utterance" here referred to divine utterances, such as the gift of speaking in other tongues, and the gift of prophecy. God had called them to operate in such gifts as confirmation of Christ's testimony that He would one day send the Holy Spirit:

     Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. “All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. (John 14:23-26)

     While the Holy Spirit certainly teaches us individually through quiet inspiration, it is also clear that in New Testament times He was directly teaching the church audibly, by means of divine utterances such as the gifts of tongues and prophecy:

     What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up. If anyone speaks in a tongue, two—or at the most three—should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and to God. Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said.  And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people. (1 Corinthians 14:26-33 NIV)

      As is clearly stated here, the church itself was being instructed through prophecy. Paul promised them that these gifts would continue among them until the revelation of Christ from Heaven, for God was faithful, and by this means He was confirming that they were His:

   … you are not lacking in any gift while you await the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you until the end, blameless in the Day of the Lord. God is faithful, through whom you were called unto the shared experience of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Corinthians 1:7-9)

     As will be covered more later, the word "blameless" here suggests that the purpose of such gifts was to confirm the word specifically to unbelievers, for God's Spirit among them is what effectively made them blameless in the face of accusers. Despite their sins, God's presence proved they were in right relationship with Him. And as the scriptures declare, "If God be for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31)

Confirming The Word To Unbelievers

     Several of the signs and wonders God used to confirm the word to unbelievers were divine utterance. As we read in Acts, one was the gift of tongues, a sign given to unbelievers on the day of Pentecost:

     When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?” (Acts 2:1-12 NIV)
                                               (http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-otus8-Ev8mE/T7vzSFkYSKI/AAAAAAAAJU4/yNzjg8wKAkA/s1600/PETER-FILLED WITH HOLY SPIRIT*-GOLD-8X7.JPG)                                                                              

     Yet because tongues were sometimes uttered in languages foreign to the people visiting the church, Paul told the Corinthians that the gift of prophecy was more desirable in bringing unbelievers to faith in Christ:

     If the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and inquirers or unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind? But if an unbeliever or an inquirer comes in while everyone is prophesying, they are convicted of sin and are brought under judgment by all, as the secrets of their hearts are laid bare. So they will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!” (1 Corinthians 14:23-25)

     Paul specifically encouraged believers to "desire," i.e. pray, for this particular gift, since through it they had the ability to prove to outsiders that the Living God was not only real but living among them:

     Follow the way of love and eagerly desire the gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy… I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets… (1 Corinthians 14:1-5 NIV)
     Another powerful "divine utterance" that could be used to confirm the testimony of Christ was the word of knowledge. Scripture records how Christ Himself once used this gift to confirm His identity as the Messiah to a Samaritan woman. Drawing on the fact that she was drawing water from a well, Jesus told her:

     “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.” “I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.” “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.” Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?” Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” They came out of the town and made their way toward him. (John 4:13-30)

Making God Out To Be A Liar

     Yet despite the return of the spiritual gifts to the church during the Azusa St. revival of the early 1900s, and then again during the charismatic renewal, manifestations of the spiritual gifts as signs to the unbeliever are once again few and far between. Many Christians profess to operate in the gifts "of the Spirit", but unfortunately many of these can be easily imitated through the power of the flesh. According to a Barna Report published in 2009:

     There were significant differences in the answers provided by evangelicals, non-evangelical born agains and notional Christians. Evangelicals were more likely than people from the other faith segments to say that they had gifts of teaching (28%), service (12%), encouragement (10%), and administration (7%). The non-evangelical born again segment was the group most likely to claim the gifts of faith (10%) and hospitality (3%). Notional Christians were most notable for having the largest percentage who said they had no gift at all (37%, compared to 16% of evangelicals and 24% of non-evangelical born agains)… Since 1995, the proportion of born again adults claiming the gift of evangelism dropped from 4% to 1%.

     While natural born gifts such as "administration" or "leadership" can be viewed as a positive thing, in matters of the Spirit they are invariably a serious deteriment to the true work of God. Men step out in the power of the flesh to accomplish "the work of God," yet their works are the works of the flesh, and produce no true spiritual fruit as a result.   
     More evidence that the "spiritual gifts" Christians operate in today are not genuine gifts of the Spirit can be seen in that many of those cited are not true Biblical gifts, and occasionally even have nothing to do with spirituality at all:

     The survey also found that many people who say they have heard of spiritual gifts were not necessarily describing the same gifts outlined in the Bible. Among the gifts claimed that are not among those deemed to be spiritual gifts in the passages of scripture that teach about gifts (Romans 12:6-8, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4:7-13, 1 Peter 4:10-11) were a sense of humor, singing, health, life, happiness, patience, a job, a house, compromise, premonition, creativity, and clairvoyance. In total, one-fifth of all the gifts cited by respondents (21%) were attributes that do not fit the biblical lists of Gifts given by God.
     While true spiritual gifts other than those mentioned in the Bible can certainly exist, claiming a job, a car or a house as being one's "spiritual gift" would be comical if it weren't so terribly sad. Are there many still operating in the kind of divine utterances Paul claimed were confirmations of the testimony of Christ? A few, and these give hope to those still aspiring to reach the lost through the spiritual power of God.
     The following testimony was taken from a book published in 2006 entitled, Shifting Shadows Of Supernatural Power: A Prophetic Manual For Those Wanting To Move In God's Supernatural Power:

     Kris Vallotton, associate pastor and prophetic minister of Bethel Church in Redding California, has had many encounters with psychics who flock to Northern California's diverse New Age climate… Flying home from a conference, Kris and his wife found themselves sitting next to a woman who looked like an ordinary, everyday housewife. "She was acting normal but I could feel this whole spiritual thing surrounding her that felt like a suicidal entity on her."
     The woman picked up a book with Asian writing on the cover and Kris, by this time convinced that the seating arrangements on this flight were a divine appointment, asked her what the book was about. She replied that she was a Buddhist; the book was about Buddhism. She also told him that she was a trained as a psychic by the psychic network.
     "I leaned over to her and said, 'So you're a psychic, huh? That spirit guide you have is a demon and it's trying to kill you."
     She tried to ignore him and held the book closer to her face pretending to read. But Kris, gaining more prophetic insight into the woman's life wouldn't let up, and said, "Hey, you know why you let that demon in your life when you were a little girl? Because you were molested when you were 8 years old."
     The book lowered from her face and she replied, "You are freaking me out."
     Then Kris asked her who John was.
     Her voice grew softer as she told him that John was her uncle, the man who molested her.
     "God told me to ask you about the car accident," he continued.
     "Which accident? I've been in three accidents in the last 18 months. When the spirit guide talks to me, I rear end people."
     "It's trying to kill you and you need to be delivered," Kris replied.
     After a bit more conversation, the woman tried ignoring Kris again and resumed reading her book. She flipped through several pages and stopped. Then, she flipped through some more pages and stopped to read, clearly becoming anxious. Suddenly, she threw the book on the floor of the plane saying, "This is freaking me out." She then picked up the book and showed it to Kris, randomly pointing out on various pages where the author stated in various ways - "Some people need to be delivered because they are tormented by evil spirits."
     Kris gently asked her if he could pray for her. After overcoming her reluctance, he simply prayed, "Holy Spirit, show here that you're real, that you love her, and that she is being deceived."
     The woman appeared to fall asleep for about 20 minutes. Then she opened her eyes looked at Kris and said, "It's peaceful in here" Tears pooled up in her eyes as she continued, "I haven't had peace since I was a little girl."
     In the process of meeting the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), she discovered that she had been leaning in the devourer (1 Peter 5:8 ).  (Shifting Shadows Of Supernatural Power, P.48-49)

     If true spiritual gifts like this are still in operation, then what's the problem? Why aren't more Christians today using the gifts of prophecy and word of knowledge to reach unbelievers? There is a very simple answer.

Travailing In Prayer: A Price Few Are Willing To Pay

     Modern pentecostalism and the reemergence of the spiritual gifts arose again in the 20th century as a result of prayer. This is clear from the writings of those involved in the Azusa St. Revival, where the baptism of the Holy Spirit was renewed. Yet for those unfamiliar with this event in church history, a brief description might here be in order.
     According to Wikipedia:

     Among first-hand accounts were reports of the blind having their sight restored, diseases cured instantly, and immigrants speaking in German, Yiddish, and Spanish all being spoken to in their native language by uneducated black members, who translated the languages into English by "supernatural ability"… By mid-May 1906, anywhere from 300 to 1,500 people would attempt to fit into the building… People from a diversity of backgrounds came together to worship: men, women, children, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, rich, poor, illiterate, and educated. People of all ages flocked to Los Angeles with both skepticism and a desire to participate. The intermingling of races and the group's encouragement of women in leadership was remarkable, as 1906 was the height of the "Jim Crow" era of racial segregation, and fourteen years prior to women receiving suffrage in the United States.


     Though William J. Seymour is credited as being the primary leader of this great revival, what often goes unheralded are the prayers of those whose sacrificial obedience on their knees helped pave the way for it. The incessant prayers of men like Frank Bartleman were indispensable in the years leading up to 1906.
     In his writings, Bartleman recorded the amount of fasting and prayer he and others were engaging in prior to the eventual Azusa St. outpouring: 

     The spirit of prayer came more and more heavily upon us. In Pasadena, before moving to Los Angeles, I would lie on my bed in the daytime and roll and groan under the burden. At night I could scarcely sleep for the spirit of prayer. I fasted much, not caring for food while burdened. At one time I was in soul travail for nearly 24 hours without intermission. It nearly used me up. Prayer literally consumed me. Sometimes I would groan all night in my sleep. (Frank Bartleman's Azusa Street, P.35)

     In another place he added:
     By this time the spirit of intercession had so possessed me that I prayed almost day and night. I fasted much also, until my wife almost despaired of my life at times. The sorrows of my Lord had gripped me. I was in Gethsemane with Him. The 'travail of His soul" had fallen in measure upon me. At times I feared that I might not live to realize the answers to my prayers and tears for revival. But He reassured me, sending more than one angel to strengthen me. (Frank Bartleman's Azusa Street, P.32)

     His prayers were not haphazard. Many were offered specifically in reference to seeing the return of the gifts:

     I was led to pray at this early date especially for faith, discernment of spirits, healing, and prophecy. I felt I needed more wisdom and love also. I seemed to receive a real "gift of faith" for the revival at this time, with a spirit of prophecy to the same end, and began to prophesy of mighty things to come. (Frank Bartleman's Azusa Street, P.25-26)

     He often referred to the type of prayer he and others were engaged in as "travailing" in prayer, a type of groaning unto God that the worldly Christian found offensive:

     I found that most Christians did not want to take on a burden of prayer. It was too hard on the flesh. I was carrying this burden now in ever increasing volume, night and day. The ministry was intense. It was "the fellowship of His sufferings," a "travail" of soul, with "groanings that could not be uttered" (see Romans 8:26-27)…  At Smale's church one day, I was groaning in prayer at the altar. The spirit of intercession was upon me. A brother rebuked me severely. He did not understand it. The flesh naturally shrinks from such ordeals. The "groans" are no more popular in most churches than is a woman in birth pangs in the home. Soul travail does not make pleasant company for selfish worldlings. But we cannot have souls born without it… the church desires no "groans" today. She is too busy enjoying herself. (Frank Bartleman's Azusa Street, P.21, 28-29) 
     Yet those who did become seriously involved in the Pentecostal revival game themselves and their meetings over to continual, round-the-clock prayer, a fact evident from the minute one walked in the door:

     When we first reached the meeting, we avoided human contact and greeting as much as possible. We wanted to meet God first. We got our head under some bench in the corner in prayer, and met men only in the Spirit, knowing them "after the flesh" no more. The meetings started themselves, spontaneously… Brother Seymour generally sat behind two boxes, one on top of the other. He usually kept his head inside the top one during the meeting, in prayer. (Frank Bartleman's Azusa Street, P.59, 58)
      It is also important to note that these were not organized prayer times with a set structure and time limit, nor did the leaders strive to work the congregation up into praying:

     Prayer was not formal in those days. It was God-breathed. It came upon us and overwhelmed us. We did not work it up. We were gripped with real soul travail by the Spirit that could no more be shaken off than could the birth pangs of a woman in travail without doing absolute violence to the Spirit of God. (Frank Bartleman's Azusa Street, P.35)

     As a result, the Devil worked hard to turn some away from the focus on prayer to one of "building a church," but his tactics failed:

     The New Testament Church, begun by Brother Smale, seemed to be losing the spirit of prayer in that they increased their organization… they had taken on too many secondary interests… They were now even attempting to organize prayer - an impossible thing. Prayer is spontaneous… [but] they had become ambitious for a church and organization… A rich lady offered them the money to build a church edifice. The Devil was bidding high. However, she soon withdrew her offer, and I confess I was glad she did. They would soon have had no time for anything but building. (Frank Bartleman's Azusa Street, P.33-34)

     From these and other quotes that could be cited, it is clear that prayer was the overwhelming factor behind the return of the gifts of the Spirit to the modern church. Yet few seem willing to pay such a price in prayer today. It should be no surprise to anyone just how few now operate in true spiritual gifts today as a result. We are getting exactly what we're paying for.

Covering The Shame Of Our Nakedness

     The big problem in all this for the church is contained in the verse where Paul told the Corinthians, "you are not lacking in any gift while you await the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ [from Heaven], who will also confirm you until the end, blameless in the Day of the Lord." As stated earlier, the presence of the Holy Spirit and His gifts among them is what made them blameless before the world, for despite their transgressions, God's presence among them served to illustrate that they were now abiding in the One who had died for their sins. Abiding in the Spirit of God was frequently referred in New Testament scriptures as abiding in "God's love":

     But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads  to eternal life. (Jude 1:20-21)
     May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the shared experience of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (2 Corinthians 13:14)

     It was, in fact, the presence of the Spirit of God that God promised the church Laodicea would cover their nakedness:
     “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. (Revelation 3:14-18 NIV)
     As scripture states in another place, the white clothing described here is the righteousness of the saints (Revelations 19:8 ), and the saints can have no righteousness apart from the presence of the Holy Spirit. What is being referred to here is what Paul called "Putting on Christ," that is, clothing themselves in the Holy Spirit as a result of prayer.
     As is covered in other studies, a great humiliation is coming to the church, and those not clothed in the Spirit will have the shame of their nakedness exposed. Today, megachurches are expanding, building ever increasing membership by creating additional "campuses" in other cities. Their numbers continue to grow, and show no signs of letting up. But in the name of converting people "to Christ" through the power of human persuasion (charismatic preachers, seeker friendly evangelistic strategies, etc.), they are really only converting them into church goers. As a result, most do not develop a true relationship with God, as would be the case with manifestations of divine utterance which confirmed the testimony of Christ to them, and converted them into true disciples of the Word. The question we need to be asking ourselves is this: If God was calling the New Testament believers to have shared experience of Christ by operating together in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, has He now stopped calling us to it? The church is now watering down the message to the point where the spiritual gifts are no longer even sought after. What matters now is church involvement. But this will come back to haunt the modern church when the great humiliation comes, for they will be left with no means by which to objectively prove, either to themselves or to the world, that they are truly blameless in Christ as evidenced by His presence among them.

Note: For confirmation of "shared experience" translation, see Philippians 3:10, Ephesians 3:9, 1 John 1:7