Friday, November 17, 2017

BOOK BY BOOK BIBLE STUDY
larrydalexanderbiblestudies.blogspot.com

BIBLE STUDY LESSON
For the week beginning Sunday November 19, 2017

PAUL CONDEMNS SPIRITUAL PRIDE
1 Corinthians 5

   The major responsibility of the Christian Church is to show the world, through our behavior, that Christianity really does produce the best men and women. In order to achieve this goal, everyone in the congregation must exercise a high level of “self-discipline” (“engrathia” in the Greek) at all times, and this is especially true for the leadership under CHRIST, who are the “watchmen” for the people of GOD, here on earth.
    The only way a Christian can make the world a better place is through, his or her, own lifestyle and behavior before unsaved humanity. We must fashion our lives according to the way JESUS, the HEAD of the Church, fashioned HIS when HE lived as a 100% human being here on earth, and, we must also be able to focus on HIS instructions as to how we are to be rightly related to GOD and HIMSELF, to Christians, and, to the world at large (John 15:1-16:4).
    In 1 Corinthians chapter 5, the Apostle Paul turns his focus to “Church discipline” and how we as Christians are expected by GOD to watch over, and help preserve and protect each other’s “spiritual well-being”, which is constantly under attack from satan. The very purpose of Church discipline is to preserve the moral purity of the congregation, and sometimes that may require cutting off the sinning believer from fellowship for a while (v.9).
    Jeremiah 21, verses 8-10 kind of helps us to understand the concept of Paul’s belief as to how we have to maintain the purity of the Church by cleansing it of sin, and then, letting the guilty party’s sin run its course ( pay the consequences) before bringing them back into the fold.
    In the Old Testament, concerning GOD’s handling of Israel regarding their sinful behavior, HE would have to, from time to time, remove them from the Holy Land (i.e. to Egypt, Assyria, and Babylon), so that their sins of disobedience could run its course, through various forms of oppression and servitude, before returning them back to their homeland.
    While they were away, GOD would perform a “spiritual cleansing” of the land, freeing it from the curse of disobediences, such as giving worship to demonic idols that should have only been given to GOD, sexual sins, etc. . Once GOD had finished HIS redeeming work on the people and the land, HE would reunite the “purified repentant people” back into the “restored land”.
    That is the same concept that Paul is stressing here to the Corinthians. In the Old Testament, the land of Israel was “set apart” for the people of GOD, and the people of GOD were responsible to keep it holy under GOD. In the New Testament “Church Age” the Christian Church is “set apart” for all those who choose to come to CHRIST and wish to maintain and live lives that are pleasing to GOD. The only way to please GOD is by showing that you have the faith that allows you to be obedient to HIM at all times. Without that faith and trust, it is impossible to please HIM, and when a person become too prideful to live in obedience, say, in the fashion that Lucifer did before he was expelled from Heaven, GOD expects  that person to be removed from the congregation. Any and every person that is guilty of practicing ongoing sinful behavior in the Church, has to be removed from the congregation, before their behavior affects others,  and so that the Church can be restored to purity, and remain pure.  
    Here Paul says that he could hardly believe the reports about the sexual immorality (incest – having sexual intercourse with a close relative) that was going on inside the Church at Corinth. A man who was a member of the Church was “shacking up” (living together while unmarried) with his father’s wife, who apparently wasn’t a member of the Church, because no recommendation of discipline was leveled at her by Paul, only the man in this situation.
    “Incest” was something that wasn’t even tolerated in most of the pagan world in those days, for it was something that was illegal even in the Roman Empire. Yet, the Corinthian Church didn’t even seem to give it a second thought. In fact they were still strutting around, proud of themselves for the spiritual advancements they believed they had made in the LORD since the Church was established five years earlier. And so, while resting on their own laurels, satan was getting ready to take over the congregation with his initial application of “evil yeast” that would threatened to ruin the whole local Church at Corinth.
    In Matthew 18:15-17 JESUS suggests a process by which we can approach a wrongdoing believer in the Church, for the purpose of correcting him or her, so that Christian relationships can get back on the right track following a sinful interruption. There JESUS states that, if another believer sins against you, you should meet privately with the wrongdoer to try and work it out to a GODly conclusion. If the wrongdoer listens, and confesses to his or her fault, the relationship can be restored.
    However, if the first attempt at reconciliation is unsuccessful, then the next step should be to meet again with the wrongdoer, this time taking one or two others with you to act as witnesses to verify your earnest attempt at reconciling the relationship. If the person still refuses to listen and repent of their wrongdoing, then, the matter should be taken to Church. If the church rules in your favor in the matter, and yet, the wrongdoer still does not accept it, you should, from that point forward, treat that person as one who does not wish to conform to the Christian lifestyle, and disassociate yourself from them.
    The rationale behind this process toward discipline and correction is to give a person who has made a mistake, every opportunity to repent of their wrongdoing. It serves as a way to establish whether or not a person’s wrongdoing is unintentional, intentional, or just a blatant disregard for what is right or wrong.
    True believers in the body of CHRIST must be able to realize that even if one person in the Church violates the will of GOD, by showing blatant disrespect to GOD and his or her fellowman, and is not disciplined accordingly, then the door has been left opened for satan to overcome and affect everyone else in the congregation over time (v.6). Paul, who is acting under the authority of CHRIST says that a person of such wickedness must be immediately removed from the Church in order to preserve its purity (v.7).
    Corinth, whose very name is derived from sexual misbehavior (“korinthiazomai” in the Greek, which means “fornication”), was a place that was particularly mired in sexual sin when Paul first arrived there to teach the Gospel five years earlier. He admonished those who chose to join the body of CHRIST, not to continue to indulge in their sexual promiscuity and sinful lifestyles. He reminded them that he was not talking to those who didn’t want to commit to the Church, but rather, he was speaking to those who did wish to commit to the Christian lifestyle.
    Paul goes on to tell the Church at Corinth that it was not his responsibility to judge unbelievers (“krino” judge – judgment of condemnation), but rather, it is his responsibility was to judge believers (“diakrino” judge – judge using the Word of GOD as your guide) (Vs.9-11). And not only was it Paul’s job to judge believers in the Church, Paul says that it is the responsibility of everyone in the Church to do so (v.12). “Spiritual Pride” will cause a person to sin, and, it will also cause a person to ignore the sins of others, even inside the walls of the Church, of which we pledge to CHRIST, to preserve its purity.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website






Friday, November 10, 2017

BOOK BY BOOK BIBLE STUDY
larrydalexanderbiblestudies.blogspot.com

BIBLE STUDY LESSON
For the week beginning Sunday November 12, 2017

OUT OF THE SPOTLIGHT
(Christian service is humble, not glamorous)
1 Corinthians 4

   The greatest characteristic of the “true Christian” is his or her service to GOD, and, their fellowman. True service to the LORD requires a great deal of humility and commitment, and most of the time, our work is not glamorous. It is often very hard work that requires a heart (mind) deeply committed to CHRIST. GOD knows the heart (thoughts) of each of HIS servants, and through HIS omniscience, in an instant, HE can determine who is serving for their own glory, and who is trying to please HIM.
    In 1 Corinthians 4, the Apostle Paul continues on in his explanation of how we are all servants in the body of CHRIST, and how every Christian, especially the leaders, must be faithful to CHRIST, at all times. All “called leaders” have been put in charge of explaining the “secret things” of GOD. In other words, GOD allows a “called leader” to share his wisdom, and they are entrusted with managing HIS message of salvation here on earth. However, a leader must not perform his or her duties as one who is in control, but rather, as one who serves, and is responsible to their superior, GOD. 
    Whether or not a leader is faithful cannot be determined by those “confessed Christians”, who are not thoroughly familiar with the Word of GOD.  GOD expects us to judge our leaders, but only by using HIS Holy Word as the standard for making our determination (diakrino judgment – 1 John 4:1-6). Ultimately, however, sometimes even the conscience of a good leader himself cannot be trusted in these matters, and so GOD always leaves the ultimate judgment (“krino judgment”-judgment of “condemnation) call for HIMSELF to make when HE returns to examine the deeds of our lifetime. When HE does come, HE will bring our deepest secrets to light, and also at that time, HE will reveal our private motives and either reward us, or punish us, accordingly.
    Here in chapter 4, Paul continues to use himself and Apollos to illustrate his message to the Corinthians, and he strongly urges that they stay focused on the Word of GOD so that they don’t become puffed up with pride and begin to brag and pit one leader against the other. Any gift that we have has been given to us by GOD, and knowing this, how can we possibly boast about what we’ve accomplished, as if we had accomplished it in our own strength.
    In verses 8-13 Paul employs the literary device known as “sarcasm”. Here he gives us a vivid description of the “worldly superior” Corinthians, being ensconced in the familiar position of being “spiritually inferior” to the apostles. The division in the Church at Corinth had been born out of the selfish desires of the congregation itself, and those selfish desires had found their roots in the “spiritual pride” of those same individuals.
    Seeking a cure for this destructive “schismata” at the newly founded church, Paul decides to send “his son in CHRIST”, Timothy, to lead the church back into the teaching and doctrine of CHRIST JESUS that, he himself, had imparted to them, just five years earlier. Thinking that Paul would never return, the Corinthians had become arrogant with their fancy speech and oratory skills. Paul was not so sure that they were actually working in the power of the HOLY SPIRIT. He knew only that the Kingdom of GOD was not just fancy talk, and that a “humble posture” is the only manifested attitude that GOD will accept from man in relation to HIM.
    Although Paul loved his Corinthian brothers, he also knew that a loving father would not shy away from discipline, if it were needed. So Paul concludes chapter 4 by presenting the Corinthians with a choice of how they wished for him to return. Would they want him to return with punishment and scolding? Or, would they want him to return with a visit characterized by quiet love and gentleness?
    In a very real sense, that same two-part question is posed to every person on earth, who is in their right mind, and has reached an age of accountability. How do we want CHRIST to return to us personally? In Matthew 25, verses 31-46, concerning the “Final Judgment”, JESUS warns us of just such a coming. There HE gives us “the answers to the test of life”, and tells exactly how HE will grade us, based on our reaction to human need in our lifetime.
    In this passage JESUS tells us that when HE returns, HE will do so as a shepherd who has come to separate his sheep from his goats. The sheep in this passage represent those who have operated in life according to HIS holy directives, and have reacted in the right way to human need. These will be placed on HIS right, and will ultimately receive their “just rewards” in the Kingdom of Heaven.
    On the other hand, the left hand, will be placed, the goats, those who represent the people who did not respond to HIS directives in the right way (obedience), or, did not respond at all. They in turn, will also receive their “just rewards”, however, it will be eternal punishment in Hell, or, the Lake of Fire”.
    The time is always “right now” to make a determination as to which side of JESUS we prefer to be on when that coming “Day of Judgment” arrives. And it is not just a verbal decision that we must make, but rather, it is a behavioral one, based on our humble service to the Almighty GOD, and, to our fellowman, in our lifetime here on earth.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website


  


Friday, October 27, 2017

BOOK BY BOOK BIBLE STUDY
larrydalexanderbiblestudies.blogspot.com

BIBLE STUDY LESSON
For the week beginning Sunday October 29, 2017

BUILDING TOGETHER
1 Corinthians 3

   In 1 Corinthians 1, we saw how the Corinthians had become distracted from CHRIST by way of their arguments over the merits of “human leadership” in CHRIST’ Church. Paul says that they were acting like “unsaved people” would act. Instead of behaving “pneumatikos” (spiritual), they were behaving “sarkikos” (worldly, or carnal). Their actions had begun to cause divisions (schismata) in the newly formed Christian Church at Corinth.
    Here in chapter 3 of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, Paul seems to re-focus a bit on that issue that was dividing, or, splitting the church into worldly factions. The worldly jealousy and bickering in the Church, served as proof that they were still infants to the Christian concept and ideology of faith in an unselfish CHRIST, WHO, vicariously gave HIS whole life for a dying mankind. They were a people still being controlled by their own selfish desires.
    To say that we are a follower of any human being is proof that we are still greatly influenced by worldly thinking and behavior. The great overpowering message of the cross is the message of, both, “justification” and “sanctification”. They call for, and demand, a renewed, transformed attitude and behavior from those who enter into the Christian Faith, and express a desire to build on the foundation of CHRIST JESUS. When we are born again, and enter into the Body of CHRIST, we are expected to grow out of our newly acquired infancy, into becoming mature followers of only CHRIST JESUS, WHO then, will usher us into GOD’ OWN glorious presence.
    Mere men like Paul and Apollos, can only plant and water the seeds of faith, however, it requires the power of the Almighty GOD, through the teaching of the HOLY SPIRIT, to make those seeds grow. Men can lead a person to CHRIST JESUS, but only CHRIST JESUS can bring a person to GOD.
    The foundation of the Church, which is CHRIST JESUS, has long been laid, and now, it is up to Christians (CHRIST’ followers) to build on that foundation of “The Most Faith”, that GOD, has already put into place. And so, it is silly to argue over human leadership within the Church when GOD has already appointed an eternal leader, HIS holy and divine SON, JESUS CHRIST, WHOSE position, can never be usurped.
    In conclusion, we humans only need to obey, getting about the business of following and serving GOD. There is no room in the Christian Church for human ingenuity, and there is no room in the Christian Church for a leader, apart from CHRIST. Whatever gifts and talents GOD has blessed us with, should be used in HIS service to build upon the foundation of CHRIST.
    Through GOD’s special favor to Paul, he was both privileged, and responsible to help build on the foundation of Christianity that CHRIST laid, here on earth. And every Christian, who is willing to follow the lead of CHRIST, and of Paul and the early Church workers who helped establish the Christian Church in its infancy, should also recognize this privilege and responsibility to continue the work of CHRIST, building upon HIS body in this day, day by day.
    At the appointed time, the substance that each of us uses to build on the foundation of CHRIST, be it gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw, will be tested in the flames of judgment to see if it can withstand the heat (the Tribulation). If a person’s work of life in the Church is built on the “gold standard” of GOD, which is obedience, it will withstand the heat, and that worker will be rewarded in the end.
    However, if a person chooses to use the wrong material (human ingenuity), something less than the “gold standard” of GOD to build on the foundation of CHRIST, that material, that is not of the mind of GOD, and can’t possibly stand the testing of judgment (i.e., the various Christian denominations that come from the minds of men), that person’s work, even if he or she believes that they are serving GOD in the process, will be burned up, and the builder will suffer a great loss of rewards.
    The builders themselves will be “saved”, because their motive to serve GOD was correct. However, we can’t serve GOD any way we want to, we must instead, serve GOD in the way HE wants us to. And so, even though that person will be saved, the analogy used here in this passage (Vs.10-15) is that, it will be likened to one who escapes damnation by running through a wall of fire, they will get there (to Heaven), but they will reek of the smell of smoke, and receive no other rewards for their efforts when they arrive.
    All Christians, together, make up the Body of CHRIST, and the Temple of GOD. The SPIRIT of GOD dwells in all “saved people”, or, those who are “being saved”. However, GOD will bring to ruin, anyone who seeks to ruin HIS Temple. To be wise, by world standards, has no place, or meaning in the Temple of GOD, or, the Body or Family of CHRIST. The wisdom of this world is utter foolishness to GOD, and so we need to work with, and for GOD, in order to successfully build on the everlasting foundation of CHRIST. Everything we need to be successful belongs to the Christian. The Christian belongs to JESUS CHRIST. And JESUS CHRIST belongs to GOD (Vs.22-23).

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander   





Friday, October 20, 2017

BOOK BY BOOK BIBLE STUDY
larrydalexanderbiblestudies.blogspot.com

BIBLE STUDY LESSON
For the week beginning Sunday October 22, 2017

PAUL PREACHES WISDOM
1 Corinthians 2

   During the first century, Corinth was known as the finest city in Greece. It was a bustling cosmopolitan city that some 250,000 residents called home. It was situated on a narrow five-mile strip of land that boasted seaports on both, the Aegean Sea, and the Gulf of Corinth. This allowed seafarers the opportunity to avoid long, dangerous treks around the Peloponnesian Peninsula, by simply crossing over this narrow strip of land with their cargo safely intact.
    The Apostle Paul had spent about a year and a half in this lively city establishing the first Christian Church there. This was some five years before he wrote this letter to the Church of Corinth, circa A.D. 56. Here in 1 Corinthians 2, Paul abandons the approach that had been taken by most preachers and philosophers who had come to Corinth to speak to the citizenry of this Christian Church. He chose instead, to rely on the power of the HOLY SPIRIT in his presentation of the Gospel of CHRIST (Vs.1-5).
    The city of Corinth was filled with itinerant ministers at that time, who, attracted many followers by way of their impressive oratory skills. Realizing this, Paul had purposely set out to use a simpler, less sophisticated approach to sharing the good news about JESUS CHRIST. In other words, he sought to “make it plain” so that his listeners would experience the power of the Almighty GOD over human wisdom. It is through this method that Paul sought to expose them to the secret wisdom of GOD.
    In stark contrast to non-believers, believers are led by the presence of the HOLY SPIRIT of GOD within them. They are able to size up and evaluate things from a GODly perspective, before making a decision concerning life’s challenges. Non-believers, on the other hand, have no real insight into the things of the SPIRIT, or, things of GOD.
    Believers have the luxury of having the Truth revealed to them through the HOLY SPIRIT that GOD has infused in them, and, do in effect, share the mind of CHRIST through their accepting of the Word (v.16b). We have come to know, understand, and share, the secret discernment of GOD. In other words, through the help of the HOLY SPIRIT, we are able to tune in to the thoughts that have been expressed by CHRIST JESUS, and to use GOD’s wisdom and discernment to help us live longer, more productive lives, here on earth.
    It is true by Paul’s own admission that, his manner of preaching was unimpressive from a human standpoint (2 Corinthians 10:12). He readily accepted this fact, and often used it, as a strongpoint in his arguments. His preaching was not marked by the persuasive eloquence that characterized such men as Apollos, or, even the late Stephen, whose story is chronicled in Acts chapters 6 and 7. However, Paul was able to turn this disadvantage into an advantage, by showing that faith is induced by a demonstration of the HOLY SPIRIT, not by rhetoric, or human ingenuity. He wanted to make sure that people knew that the faith of Christians rested on GOD’s power, and not on the worldly wisdom of men.
    Only the SPIRIT of GOD can enable us to understand spiritual truths, and provide us with the discernment that is so paramount to living GODly, Christian lives on a day-to-day basis. Remember, GOD alone makes it possible for us to be in CHRIST JESUS, and for our benefit, HE made CHRIST to be the personification of wisdom. And so JESUS is the only ONE WHO makes us acceptable to GOD the FATHER.
    Through JESUS’ vicarious sacrifice, HE presents us before GOD, pure and holy, and, only HE is qualified to boast. We, on the other hand, no matter how eloquent, or versed in Scripture we may be, can only boast of what JESUS, by way of GOD the FATHER, through the HOLY SPIRIT, has done. And when we are wise enough to understand that, then, and only then, we are wise enough to please GOD.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander









Friday, October 13, 2017

BOOK BY BOOK BIBLE STUDY
larrydalexanderbiblestudies.blogspot.com

BIBLE STUDY LESSON
For the week beginning Sunday October 15, 2017

THE BOOK OF FIRST CORINTHIANS

A CALL TO UNITY
1 Corinthians 1:10-17

INTRODUCTION TO PAUL’S FIRST LETTER TO THE CORINTHIANS

   In the biblical Greek, the word translated as “Church” in the English language is “Ekklesia”. Ekklesia is a word that comes from the Greek word “kaleo”, which means “I call”, or “I summon”. In secular Greek it refers to “any assembly or gathering of people for any purpose”, and can be a political gathering, a riot, or even an orgy. That is why Bible translators use the term “Church” instead of the terms “assembly” or “gathering”.
    The biblical use of the word “Ekklesia” (Church) refers only to “a gathering of Christians to praise and worship CHRIST”.  That is why, in the Bible, GOD specifies that, “When two or more are gathered together in MY name”, a phrase that would distinguish between HIS people, who assemble for praise and worship of HIM, and, any other secular assembly or gathering for worldly purposes, which might include “worship of other gods”.
    Before JESUS ascended back into Heaven HE charged HIS disciples to return to Jerusalem and assemble together and wait for HIM to send the HOLY SPIRIT (Acts 1-2). This “gathering in JESUS’ name” quite literally became the birth of the Christian Church in the world. However, it would be a little while longer before CHRIST JESUS would call the Apostle Paul (Acts 9) to pull it all together as he became the face of the Christian movement in the first century.
    Corinth was a Greek city located on the isthmus (a narrow strip of land which connected two larger land masses) between Peloponnesus and mainland Greece, about 40 miles west of Athens. It derived its name from the Greek term “korinthiazomai” (kor-in-thia-zom-ahee) which means “fornication”. That should give you some idea of what kind of city it was when Paul first visited there on his second missionary journey.
   Paul’s first letter to the Church at Corinth was written to address the many problems that had cropped up, immediately following his founding of the church there, during his second missionary journey (Acts 18:1-8). The believers in Corinth had begun to question Paul’s authority as an apostle appointed by CHRIST. They were also misusing worship, suing each other in court, engaging in all sorts of immorality, and even denying that the resurrection of CHRIST ever took place.
    The Apostle Paul wrote this letter circa A.D. 57 on behalf of himself and Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue at Corinth. Sosthenes was the man, who was beaten by an angry mob in the courtroom, while standing before the Roman governor Gallio of Achaia (Acts 18:17). Sosthenes must have converted to Christianity some time following that mob scene in his city.
    The obvious purpose of this letter was to correct any damage that had already been done to the Christian belief system in Corinth by anti-CHRIST teachers, and to stave off any further damage that could yet occur in this young Church. You see, it is not enough that we say we are Christian, but rather, we must also demonstrate our beliefs in our lifestyle, lest we dishonor CHRIST JESUS, the ONE WHO sends us to spread the Gospel with dignity and respect for those whom we seek to convert. It is CHRIST’ power in us that makes it possible for us to actually live as GOD wants us to live.


PAUL’S GREETINGS AND OPENING SALUTATIONS
1 Corinthians 1:1-9

   In the opening lines of Paul’s first letter to the Church at Corinth (Vs.1-10), we find no less than 10 references to CHRIST JESUS, our LORD. Here Paul begins by presenting himself as an authoritative representative of JESUS CHRIST, the head of the Christian Church. Paul says here that he has been authorized to teach the Gospel to all who have been called to be GOD’s holy people. He reminds them that GOD has decided to make them holy through CHRIST JESUS, just as HE has all the other Christians who have voluntarily chosen to join the Christian movement and network of believers.
    In verses 4-9 Paul gives thanks to GOD for all of the wonderful gifts that HE had blessed the Church at Corinth with, in such a short time. GOD had enriched the Church with eloquence and every kind of knowledge, which stood to verify everything that Paul had told them about CHRIST. And even though the Church still had many flaws, they also had gained much strength that would bolster their hope, and keep them strong, until the great day when JESUS CHRIST returns. The GOD of promise, WHO invited us into a right relationship with HIS SON, will surely keep HIS Word and deliver us safely into HIS glorious presence in the end.


DIVISION IN THE CHURCH
1 Corinthians 1:10-17

    In the biblical Greek, the word used for “divisions” in verse 10 is “schismata”, and it describes “a condition of tears and splits that divide the wholeness of a unit”. In 1 Corinthians 1:10-17, after giving thanks to GOD, Paul focuses in on the obvious divisions taking place in the Church at Corinth, and he sets out to present his appeal there for unity. The debate in the Church at Corinth over Christian leadership had all but destroyed the unity of that local congregation. They were constantly engaged in heated debate over who they should follow. Some wanted to follow Paul, while others were loyal to Apollos, and Peter, and fortunately, some, who were still in their right mind, were yet willing to follow CHRIST JESUS, the GOD appointed, true HEAD of the Church. 
    Some people, and understandably so, have come to cite this passage as an argument against forming different denominations within the Christian body. When we separate the Christian church into different factions, we are, in effect, arguing that our group is “best” or “right”, and as a result, we separate ourselves from others who are really equal members in the body of CHRIST.
    We all can agree that, here in the twenty-first century, we have become more interested in teaching people about our various denominations (i.e. Baptist, Methodist, Catholic), than we are about teaching GOD’s perfect idea that is now called “Christianity”. However, it would serve us well to always remember that “Christianity” is the only “true” religion, because it is the only religion that is a product of GOD’s mind. Every other religion, sect, or denomination known to man, is quite simply, a product of man’s own mind, and therefore, in essence, is wrong.
    The good news is that GOD already knew that this kind of desire, for human superiority, would rise up out of the minds of men. It is GOD’s desire that man leave “human ingenuity” out of the Church that HE has already established for HIMSELF. The only thing GOD needs from man in the Church, and quite frankly, everywhere else, is “obedience”. Our “human ingenuity” can only get in the way of GOD’s plan for the Church, and how GOD has already established the Christian belief system, which does not need to be tweaked by mankind.
    JESUS CHRIST states the greatest of all Christian doctrine when HE commands that, we;

“Love GOD with all our heart, soul, and mind, and that we love our neighbor as we love ourselves”. HE goes on to further state, that, “All the other commandments and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments” (NLT).

    “Christian unity”, is intended by GOD to transcend all the differences that men may have with each other regarding worship and anything else, and when we follow HIS instructions, those divine directives can bring men together in fellowship and love.
    It is that kind of “Christian unity” that JESUS prayed about in John 17, and, that same kind of “Christian unity” that Paul wrote about to the Church, here in this letter to the Corinthians, and indeed, in all of his other doctrinal letters to the various Churches along the newly formed Christian network. It concerns a unity that is not born of bricks and mortar, or human ingenuity, but rather, it is a unity of “personal relationships”, not unlike the one we’ve already seen, between the FATHER and the SON, as an example to us, for all time.


THE WISDOM OF GOD
1 Corinthians 1:18-31

   The words and the message of the Christian Bible, sounds foolish to those who are on their way to destruction. However, to those who are being saved, it represents, quite literally, the very essence and power of GOD. The Bible promises that GOD will utterly destroy human wisdom, and discard their most brilliant ideas (v.19), for there is no room, especially in the Church, for human ingenuity, there is only room for obedience. 
     So where does that leave the world’s philosophers, scholars, and brilliant debaters? Here in verse 20, Paul says that they will be made to look “foolish” (“moros” in the Greek) by GOD, WHO will show their worldly wisdom to be total non-sense. A man will never find GOD through his own human wisdom. In fact, GOD uses the seemingly foolish preaching of HIS servants to save only those who choose to believe in HIM. The very definition of a “foolish” person, “moros”, here in this passage, describes one who looks at reality from a perspective that is distorted, because they fail to take GOD into account.
    GOD’s way always seemed foolish to the anti-CHRIST Jews, as they always wanted a “sign” from Heaven to prove it was true. And so GOD used many miracles through HIS prophets, that couldn’t be explained by “human reasoning”. And since they still couldn’t wrap their inferior minds around it, they continued on in their unbelieving lifestyles.
    Equally, GOD’s way has always seemed foolish to the Gentile, as they could only allow themselves to believe in what agrees with their own worldly wisdom. When we say things like “JESUS was crucified”, anti-CHRIST Jews are offended and unbelieving Gentiles say, “Go away”, and that, “it is all non-sense”.
    The plans and things of GOD that worldly people call foolishness, is far wiser than the plans and things of men that are devised through “human ingenuity”. In fact, GOD often chooses things that the world considers foolish, in order that HE may shame those who think they are wise. He also sometimes uses powerless people to shame or bring down those who are considered powerful. GOD will sometimes even choose things that are despised by the world, and counted as nothing at all, and then, use those things, to “bring to nothing”, those things that the world considers important.
    And now, it is GOD alone, WHO has made it possible for us to be saved from ourselves, through CHRIST JESUS, of WHOM HE made wisdom personified. JESUS voluntarily gave HIS OWN life for the lives of we who were still embedded deeply in sin. And so, the person, who is proud enough to boast, can only boast about what JESUS has done for us, and not, what we’ve have done for ourselves.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website


Friday, September 22, 2017

BOOK BY BOOK BIBLE STUDY
larrydalexanderbiblestudies.blogspot.com

BIBLE STUDY LESSON
For the week beginning Sunday  September 24, 2017

PAUL MINISTERS ON THE ISLAND OF MALTA
(GOD provides opportunities to use our faith)
(Acts 28:1-10)

   G.K. Chesterton once wrote, “For whatever is or is not true, this one thing is certain, “We are not what we were meant to be”. Man is the highest form of GOD’s creation here on earth, and thereby, is the greatest benefactor of HIS brilliance and largess. Men and women were made by GOD to have dominion over the works of HIS hand, here on earth. But instead, we’ve become creatures who are frustrated by our own, self-imposed circumstances, who are defeated by our temptations, and, who are surrounded by our own weaknesses.
    And so, it is into this seemingly hopeless situation that GOD sent us HIS only begotten SON, so that whosoever believes in HIM, will not perish, but rather, will have everlasting life. JESUS made it possible for us to overcome, an otherwise, saddened and doomed state of existence, and, at one and the same time, helped us to understand, and become, what we ought to be.
    In Acts chapter 28, verses 1-10, Paul and the 276-man crew find themselves shipwrecked and stranded on the Island of Malta. It would be three months before they could board another ship to Rome. Malta was a small island in the Mediterranean Sea located between Sicily and Africa. While Paul was stranded there, he seized the opportunity to preach the Gospel to its inhabitants, and was actually able to expand the Kingdom of GOD to a group of people, the Maltese, who were called “barbarous”, because they were said, by the Greeks, to speak an unintelligible foreign language. In fact, not only did Paul teach the Gospel of CHRIST there, he was also actually able to plant a new church there before he left.
    The people on Malta were very kind to the crew, and it was very cold and wet when they arrived. As they were gathering wood for a fire, a poisonous snake attached itself to Paul’s hand. The people of the Island saw what was happening and thought for sure that Paul would be killed. However, Paul shook the snake into the fire and was unharmed. The people, however, waited for a long while to see if Paul would swell up and die, but when nothing happened, they started believing that he must be a god (Vs. 1-6).
    While on Malta, they met the chief Roman official, Publius, who invited them to his estate where he generously fed them for three days. Publius had a father who was suffering with an ailment called dysentery (dis-en-ter-e), which is a painful infection of the lower intestinal tract that also causes fever and severe diarrhea. While there, Paul laid hands on him and healed him. He also healed many other sick people on the Island who came to him seeking relief, and they were honored greatly by the people, and were given many things that they would need when they re-embarked upon their journey to Rome (Vs. 7-10).
    Throughout our lives GOD gives us many opportunities to be all that we can be, and all that HE intended us to be. We are to mature in faith to the point where can, first, master control over the sin in our lives, and then, help others to do the same. With the power of the HOLY SPIRIT in us, we become all that we can be under GOD. We can defeat the forces of satan quite handily because, HE WHO is in us (the HOLY SPIRIT) is greater than he who is in the world (satan). 


PAUL ARRIVES IN ROME
Acts 28:11-16

    Three months later they set sail for Rome on another ship that had docked on Malta for the winter. It was a ship from Alexandria in northern Africa, which featured the “twin gods” as its figurehead. In the first century, many ships had images of various idol gods, carved prominently at the front of the boat, kind of like a hood ornament on modern day automobiles, only, of course, sized in proportion to the ship. In those days two of the most popular idol gods were the twins, Castor and Pollux. This ship had carved images of those “Greeks gods of the constellation” called “Gemini” (Greek mythology & astrology) as its figurehead.
    Their first stop was at Syracuse, a Greek city on the southeast coast of the island of Sicily, where they stayed for three days. Then they sailed across the Strait of Messina to Rhegium (Ree-jee-uhm), on the coast of southern Italy. From there they sailed up the coast to Puteoli (Poo-TEE-uh-lih) on the western shore of southern Italy where they found some believers, who invited them to stay with them for seven days.
    Puteoli was the port of the great capital city of Rome, situated at the foot of the “Appian Way”. It was here at the original “Famous Forum”, some 43 miles from Rome, that, faithful believers came to meet their fearless, hardworking leader, Paul, to greet and encourage him.
    Still others met him ten miles farther inland at “The Three Taverns”, giving the man who thought that he was nearly without human support in Rome, a hero’s welcome. And when they arrived in the city of Rome, Paul was placed under “house arrest”, under guard by only one soldier (Vs. 11-16).


PAUL PREACHES IN ROME UNDER GUARD
Acts 28:17-31

    Three days after arriving in Rome, Paul called the local Jewish leaders together and informed them, firsthand, of his situation. He told them that he had been arrested in Jerusalem, and tried, both there, and, in Caesarea, but hadn’t been formerly charged with any crime. They agreed that they had heard nothing against Paul, and had no letters from Judea, nor, reports from anyone else, accusing him of anything against anyone. However, they were still curious to know about the, much-denounced, “Christian sect” that they had heard so many negative things about (Vs. 17-22).
    And so a time was set for Paul to speak to the Jews in Rome, while under arrest in his rented house. He took that glorious opportunity to preach and teach the doctrine of CHRIST JESUS from Scripture. He taught them from the Pentateuch, the five books of Moses, and, from the books of the prophets. These teachings continued throughout the day, and into the night, and some believed, while others did not. However, after debating back and forward among themselves, Paul left them with a quote from the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 6:9-10), and after that, they all walked away, greatly disagreeing with each other (Vs. 23-29).
    For the next two years, Paul continued to preach and teach from his rented house in Rome, and he proclaimed boldly, the Kingdom of GOD, and the doctrine of our LORD and SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST. It is also during this period that he wrote his, now famous, “jail house letters”, which includes letters to the Philippians, the Ephesians, the Colossians, and, to Philemon.  
    Jewish history tells us that Paul was acquitted of the false charges against him, and he continued to minister for a while, away from Rome. However, he returned to Rome after a couple of years and was re-arrested. This time he was executed by the Romans, reportedly beheaded during the wave of persecutions against Christians, that was spearheaded by the “miming emperor, Nero, in close proximity to Peter’s death, in and around A.D. 68.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander




                                 
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