We will begin with the third chapter of 1 Corinthians today. Iím going to use the Revised Standard quite a little today, but I will start out here with the King James, itís just continuing where we left off last Sabbath:
"And I, brethren could not speak unto you." (I Corinthians 3:1 KJV)
Now he is speaking remember to the church at Corinth. And remember as I said last week, this is just a continuing of the letter. We just left off with part of the letter and weíre going right on. This is not a new letter; this is the same letter that Paul wrote to the people in the church up in Corinth. Now remember Corinth was a city in what we know as Greece today and they were having trouble in the Church, and Paul told them right away that they should all speak the same thing. Remember we had that last week and one of them wanted to follow Paul and another wanted to follow Cephas or Peter, another wanted to follow Barnabas or someone else. And he comes to that again we find in this third chapter.
But he is correcting them, and that reminds me also of another thing; and that is about the system of punishment and how Godís punishment is so different from punishment in this world.
Now the world has the idea that if you have done evil, you must be punished, that the punishment must impose as much pain and suffering on you that is enough to equal whatever your sin or your crime or your trouble. In other words, punishment to them is revenge. Itís getting even. You did something wrong, now I want to hurt you, I want to see you suffer. Now that is not the kind of punishment God has. God doesnít know that kind of punishment at all. Godís punishment is always corrective. God only punishes to bring us to the place to correct us and no more than we need Ė just to correct us. Thatís all.
Instead of prisons, they should be institutions of correction, but we donít know how to correct. We would not know how to put up such an institution in the world. The world doesnít know those things. God never punishes because He wants to see anyone suffer. As a matter of fact, I think God suffers with us when we suffer. He doesnít get any pleasure whatever out of our suffering. (Ezekiel 33:11) Men look on it in a different way.
Now capital punishment, God did impose in ancient Israel, but that was simply to remove them from this life and they will come up in the final Great White Throne Judgment. And there is another life after this life, and most people donít seem to realize that. And that kind of punishment was just removing them from hurting other people now and they will be corrected when they come up in that life, and they will be straightened out and they will receive the gifts of God and the good things if they are willing.
If they are willing to, in other words, turn from the way that was wrong and that is causing pain and suffering to them and pain and suffering to others. Itís just that simple. That is the way of God.
So now, we go along: "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 KJV)
In other words, theyíre supposed to have come out of the world. Theyíre supposed to have received the Holy Spirit and to have therefore a different kind of a mind Ė a spiritual mind.
Now we have to go back now and understand some things that come way back in other parts of the Bible. And one thing is the one thing we went through last Sabbath about the natural man knows things that the brute animals cannot know or understand, but he could not except for the spirit of man that is in him. (I Corinthians 2:11) There is a spirit in man that is not in the brute animals.
That spirit opens up the mind to comprehension. It acts as a computer and stores knowledge and gives you instant recall of knowledge that has come into your mind through the years, and accumulated through the years. Knowledge that has come primarily through the eyes and through the ears. However, the spirit in us does not see and it doesnít hear. Itís the physical brain that sees through the physical eye. It is the physical brain that hears through the physical ear. We also get a little bit of knowledge from the sense of feel and touch and from the sense of smell and the sense of tasting. But most of the knowledge comes into our minds either what we hear or what we see; from those two channels.
Now this gets us into the matter of conversion. And we need to understand that before we go to another verse in Paulís letter to the Corinthians. I had an article recently, I believe it's been published now, or it is still to come out, in 'The Good News' or whether it was in the 'Worldwide News,' I donít just remember, Iíve written so many articles recently, that I forget where this was published and which one it was to be published in. No, I think it was in 'The Good News.'
Itís the thing that people in what they call Christianity, which is merely a religion of this world, it is a religion made up of people that have only the human spirit. They are not converted at all, they donít know what conversion is, they donít have Godís Holy Spirit, they donít understand. They think they are quote 'saved' unquote, and they donít know what salvation is. They donít know how it operates. They donít know how you receive it. The world doesnít know that. The Baptist Church doesnít know that. The Catholic Church doesnít know it, the Methodist Church doesnít know it, the Lutheran Church doesnít know any of those things. They donít understand. Itís all in the Bible, but I had to learn and be shocked when I first began to look into the Bible to learn that what Christianity teaches today is just the opposite of the Bible!
If the Bible says "go", they say "No no, stay -- donít go". If the Bible says "up", well they say "down". They say just the opposite. Now in the world they think well, for example, you know a Billy Graham crusade and you see them on television, every once in a while.
They give you a full hour telecast which will incorporate a good portion of one nightís so called Ďcrusade.í And Billy Graham will tell you that life is so uncertain that by tomorrow morning there are some people somewhere in the world that are going to die between now and tomorrow morning. You donít know but what you might be one of those persons. Now where are they going to be at this time tomorrow? Will they be in 'Hell' or will they be in 'Heaven?' "You donít know. You have no assurance of what will happen, but if you come up here, and you receive Christ tonight..." Receive Ė that is, you get Ė you appropriate, you, you have, you take, you get. Now the devilís way is get. The devil wants you to get, to take, to receive. So he says you receive Christ.
Now I donít know, maybe my conversion was all wrong, but it was quite different. I did receive Christ but thatís only part of it. The principle thing was I had to give. I gave myself to Christ and the rest of my life. He bought it and paid for it, didnít He? When He died on the cross, He had taken my life because Iíve committed sins. So have all of you. So has everybody who has ever lived except Jesus Christ. And that means that the law claimed the death penalty. When Christ took that death penalty off of me, He bought and paid for my life. I owed it to Him. I thought it was time to pay up what I owe. I gave my life to Him. Iíve been giving, giving, giving, giving ever since. Thatís why I say you give to people and they will get mad at you. People donít like you for that.
But the world thinks if you say you receive Christ Ė and Billy Grahamís contention that is, that you come up and receive Christ and it is all settled.
There is a song they sing in the churches of this world, "It was all settled long ago." Maybe some of you know of that song, youíve heard it. Thatís all there was to it. It was settled, you were converted, you were saved.
Now they think you are an immortal soul and once you are saved, when you die you go straight to heaven, you are already saved right now. Now if you are not saved, well you see it is like this, you are on a railroad train and at the end of the journey, at the end of the track, there is a switch in the track and the switch is set to send you straight down into hell. Now if along that journey some time in your life you accept Christ; what that does it changes that switch at the end of the line and then when you get to the end of the line, you see, you have already been saved, so the switch shoots you right up to heaven instead. But the time when it is all decided is not at the end or any time, it is the second you accept Christ, and if you donít you are a lost soul. Poor soul!
Now there is a great dispute. Are you saved all at once when you say, "I accept Christ?" In the first place, the Bible doesnít say that just accepting Christ is what saves you. And accepting the blood of Christ doesnít save anybody. Thatís a shocker to a lot of people. They think we are saved by the blood of Christ. Oh, no weíre not. Weíre saved by His resurrection, by His life. Not by His death. (Romans 5:9,10)
The death of Christ will reconcile you to the Father and the world overlooks the Father all together. They leave God out of it. They just have Christ in the picture, they donít even have God in the picture. What Christ does is reconcile you to God. But now just accepting Christ is not it at all. Billy Graham overlooks that. So do all the rest of the preachers and so do all of the churches in this world. The churches of this world.
You see, the first thing is repent. Jesus came into Galilee preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God. This is "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ..." (Mark 1:1) , and verse 14 He "...came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God and saying ...repent ye , and then believe..." (Mark 1:14 paraphrased KJV). He didnít say just believe on me. He said believe this message, believe the gospel. They donít even preach the message today. They only preach about the messenger and say, if you believe in the person of the messenger you will be saved. What Jesus taught was you have to believe the message, but before that you have to repent of the way you have been living!
Now repentance is toward God and you have to get straight toward God first, and then receiving Christ only reconciles you toward God and that puts you in contact with God the Father and it is God the Father who has eternal life to give you. Christ is the door. (John 10:7) He is the Shepherd of the sheep. But He is the door, you have to enter through that door to get to Christ, to get to God, I mean. He is the door by which you can approach God the Father. Do the evangelists in the world preach that? No, they donít understand that. They just do not have understanding. So there is a lot more than just receiving Christ.
Now then, is salvation something that happens just like that, at one clap all at once, or is it gradual? Well the answer is that in a sense itís both. There is a second, an instant in which you receive the Holy Spirit of God. But there are two things that have to precede that. First is, you have to have had enough knowledge and God seems to have had to have called you because Jesus said, "No man can come to me except the Father which sent me draw him." (John 6:44)
You have to be chosen as one that God has chosen to call and God has to call you, or draw you through the Holy Spirit toward Him. Now, how does He do that? The Holy Spirit from outside of you, not in you, will begin to convict you of sin. It takes a little bit of knowledge to start with. You have to come to realize how wrong you have been. And God then begins to grant you repentance. And that, you have to do. Billy Graham doesnít say anything about having to go through this thing of repentance first.
Then you have to believe Ė not only believing in Christ but believe the message that God sent by Christ. Believe, He said, the Gospel, the Good News, the message. Now then, if you do, we find that in the Bible, you are to be baptized and after baptism, we find that they did lay on hands Ė the apostles or the elders would lay on hands for the receiving of the Holy Spirit. Now that is the way it happens. That is not the way it is in a Billy Graham crusade at all. Iím talking about the way it is in the Bible, thatís something else again. I will say this; Billy Graham said to one of our lawyers that Herbert Armstrong does have a marvelous understanding of the Bible. Billy Graham knows that. But apparently, Billy Graham doesnít think that is very necessary. But I disagree with him there. I think that it is quite necessary. And I wish he had a better understanding, and I wish I could help him to that better understanding, and I would be glad to. But I donít think he would quite agree or would desire it at all.
However, there is an instant in which you do receive the Holy Spirit of God. Now here is the point that I want to make plain and Paul is bringing out in this letter right here. You only receive the Holy Spirit in a very small degree to start. Now you can receive a little bit of the Holy Spirit, but that isnít all. Christ had all Ė He was completely filled with the Holy Spirit. We are not and we are not at the time of conversion or what we call conversion.
Now letís go back a little further. We have what we call human nature. We were not born with that human nature. When we were born, we were as innocent as innocence can be. We didnít know anything one way or the other. We had minds which were capable of receiving and absorbing knowledge but there wasnít any knowledge in those minds yet. Unless there is some kind of knowledge that could have gotten there before birth, while we were still in the condition of being an unborn foetus. However, Satan is the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2). Now I can tune in on the television right here and there are sounds in this room and there are pictures in this room that you and I are not seeing right now. However, if we tune them in and get on the right channel, the right wave length, we get the sound or the picture. Itís here only we canít see it yet, it takes certain type of machine retuned a certain way to bring it in, or to make it visible before us. Satan broadcasts through the air. He surcharges the air. Now he does not broadcast in pictures or in words. He broadcasts in attitudes. He broadcasts in what we call a spirit, a right or wrong spirit or an attitude. He broadcasts also in impulses, and you donít know how it got in your mind. There is no word connected with it, just an impulse to do this or that, and it is just an impulse to covet something, an impulse toward vanity.
Now you take a little baby six or seven months old that can crawl and creep but canít walk yet. You bring another baby and put him down in the same room and you put a toy out there and each baby is probably going to try to get that toy. Already there is a little bit of self and a little bit of selfishness, and the baby will probably try to keep that toy away from the other baby. Already Satan has been starting to put a little bit of self-centeredness.
Now that also includes jealousy and envy, it includes a spirit of competition, wanting to compete and wanting to take away from the other, wanting to get the best of the other. It includes a spirit of resentment and bitterness; it includes also resentment of authority and rebellion against the authority over you. You donít want anyone else ordering you around or having authority over you.
Now Satan begins getting that into you from the time youíre, I donít know, whether itís one or two or three months old; a few months old. I know that by six months, a baby has already absorbed a little bit of it. But you didnít get it all at once and we donít all get it in the same degree and we donít all get it in the same quantity or quality. By age 16 some kids are docile and they're nice and easygoing. Other kids are rowdies and theyíre troublemakers and they just want to fight and give trouble all the time. Some kids of age 16, some males, are already hardened criminals and already have a police record. Others donít - they donít get in trouble with the law. So, we donít all receive or assimilate the same degree of the carnal nature from Satan.
Now then we come to the place where later in life God opens our minds and we begin to see a little bit about the gospel and gospel preaching is supposed to lead to repentance. It was on the Day of Pentecost when Peter preached that sermon that it says the people were pricked in their hearts and they said, "...what shall we do?" (Acts 2:37) And Peter said, "Repent and [then] be baptized...." (Acts 2:38)
And "be baptized" meant believe in Christ and believe His message. Now it was Peterís message that he had given them that pricked them in their hearts. In other words, he gave them a little bit of Godís knowledge. Otherwise, they would never even want to. Now you canít do it unless God Himself opens your mind to receive a little bit of that because no man can come to Jesus. Now there is only one way you can get to God and that is through Jesus Christ (John 14:6). But you canít even come to Jesus, and get started on the way to get to God the Father unless God the Father calls or draws you.
Jesus said so. Now was Jesus a liar? Was He telling a lie when he said, "No man can come to me" (John 6:44). Even if he wants to, he canít do it. He canít come to Christ, unless the Father has picked him out as one He has chosen to call now.
Now what does that mean? If He doesnít call you now, that is His responsibility, not yours. Therefore you are not to blame for that. Neither is God Ė He is just responsible, but He is going to bring you back in the second life after this life in the Great White Throne Judgment and He will call you then. Sooner or later, God is going to call everyone who has ever been born. But He doesnít call them all, all at once.
Now then, when we have been converted, God has called us Ė somehow it is like the sower and the seed. Seed has been sown and some of it took root in our minds and brought us to the place of repenting and being baptized and we received the Holy Spirit. Now when we receive the Holy Spirit we are partakers of the nature of God.
Over here in II Peter first chapter, verse 4: "Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises; that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature," (II Peter 1:4 KJV)
We begin to receive a little of the divine nature. Now before that you began to receive from the time you were maybe two or three or four months old, you began to receive some of the Satan nature. You didnít get it all at once. And when you begin to receive the divine nature, you were filled with Satanís nature already. That is what you are full of. You can take a quart milk bottle. Itís already filled with air whether you know it or not. Now if you want to get that air out, you can put something else in and that will crowd the air out. You might put a drop of water in. That will push a drop of air out, but you wonít even see that. But if you only get a drop of water in, you only get a drop of the air out, and if you only get a little of Godís Spirit, you only get a little bit of Satanís meanness and devilry out of you. And remember that you have been filled about 100% with the nature of Satan. And when the Holy Spirit first comes to you, thatís a little bit of the divine nature, and you only get a little bit of it to start. You have been what we call carnal, fleshly minded, in other words, Satan-minded.
Now then letís pick up what we were reading here: "And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual [as if your mind was filled with the Spirit of God, and as if you were wholly filled with the divine nature, filled with the Holy Spirit], but as unto carnal [in other words, under the natural mind that has been stuffed with the attitudes, and the ways of Satan], even as unto babes in Christ." (I Corinthians 3:1)
Now a baby can only receive a little of any nature at once. But now he is speaking of a baby as a physical being and growing up physically. And a baby has to drink milk before it can take strong meat. In other words it can start out on pablum, but it canít get the Porterhouse for some little time yet. And so he says: "I have fed you with milk," (I Corinthians 3:2)
They only have a little bit of Godís Spirit. Spiritually theyíre just infants, two or three months old Ė theyíre like physical being, two or three months old is not very big yet. And when you are spiritually newly begotten, or newly converted, youíre not spiritually very big yet. And he is comparing it with the physical child who is not physically very big, heís little and you have to feed him on milk at first. As I say, he canít take a big Porterhouse steak yet. "I have fed you with milk and not with meat; for hitherto you were not able to bear it, neither yet are you able." (I Corinthians 3:2 KJV).
Does he use that word 'bear' in the Revised Standard, letís see?
"And (but) I brethren, could not address you as spiritual men, but as men of the flesh, but as babes in Christ [now spiritually, you were like a physical person was as a physical newly born, only a baby], I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it; and even yet you are not ready." (I Corinthians 3:1-2 RSV)
Now that's not because they are mean, and he's not saying you aren't ready because you haven't been fully converted. They couldnít be fully converted yet, but already they have to begin to learn, and they werenít learning rightly, and they were in contention, and I am going to show you, as we come to it right here, that some of them, itís like weíve had people, and I have had ministers say, well, such and such a minister - "Now that man is a Garner Ted man." He was a follower of Garner Ted. "Heís not a follower of you Mr. Armstrong, heís a follower of your son." Or theyíll say, "Well that man is a Rod Meredith man." I have heard that come from any number of people. That so and so is a Rod Meredith man, and so and so is a Garner Ted man. Or so and so was an Al Portune man. Sure weíve had it in the Church today. We are no better than they were then. But the funny thing is that I never found any that were Herbert Armstrong men Ė and I donít want to find any that are Herbert Armstrong men Ė I want to find them that are Christís men. Thatís what I want to find.
"For when one of you says, "I belong to Paul," and another, "I belong to Apollos," are you not merely men?" (I Corinthians 3:4 RSV)
In other words, you are men that are filled with Satanís attitudes and you havenít changed - youíve got the nature of Satan and you havenít come yet to the divine nature. Now he says "What then is Apollos?" (I Corinthians 3:4 RSV)
Alright what is Garner Ted, what is Al Portune, what is Rod Meredith? For that sake what am I? What is Herbert Armstrong? What is Paul? He points to himself, what am I then and he answered, "Servants through whom you believed as the Lord assigned to each." (I Corinthians 3:5 RSV).
Now the Lord assigned that each one should believe and except that God the Father has called them and drawn them, they could not have come to Christ. God the Father had to decide that and that is what he says here.
Letís see, howís that - is that in the King James even like that?
"For you are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but (members) ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? (I Corinthians 3:3-5 KJV)
Well now, it seems the Revision Standard makes that a little more plain, not "as the Lord gave to every man?"" You donít quite get it. You think that the Lord gave to the preacher, and that is not what he is talking about, itís as the Lord gave to the one who is converted.
What is Apollos, what is Paul? " Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each." (I Corinthians 3:5 RSV)
As the Lord assigned to each of you who believe, in other words, as God calls you, that makes that meaning a little more plain in the Revised Standard. Now it says:
"I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth." (I Corinthians 3:6 RSV)
In the King James it says Ė God gave the increase or the means Ė God gave the growth.
Alright now, Paul went out and planted. Here we see it is talking about planting in a garden or in a field. Paul took the seed. The seed is the word of God. And Paul planted some of that word of God. However you donít just plant. If a farmer plants corn in Iowa and he just left it alone, he is not going to have a very big crop of corn. Now Iíve had uncles and aunts, uncles rather, that were farmers in Iowa and I would go down as a boy and Iíd watch them. And I know they would plant their corn in the Spring. But boy believe me, they had to plow and harrow and they had to even water, or the rain had to come and water but in a lot of countries they have to use irrigation, and they have to humanly water it, and see there is enough water, and do all that Ė but that doesnít cause it to grow. That doesnít make the corn grow. Now notice how he says it here.
"...Apollos watered [or maybe he harrowed it, plowed a little bit] but God gives the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but God who gives the growth." (I Corinthians 3:6-7 RSV)
He causes it to grow. God is the one who is really doing the big thing. Weíre not doing much. Who do we think we are?
"He who plants and he who waters are equal [one is no better than the other], and each shall receive his wages according to his labor." (I Corinthians 3:8 RSV)
Now we are to be rewarded according to our works. Now here is another thing that quite a few people understand. The general teaching is that there is no works whatever. In other words, 'works' means obedience to the spiritual law to them and they are all wrong. This is not what it means at all. 'Works of the law', as we saw on going through Galatians, means the physical ritual of the law, that are physical hard work.
But, where is says we are rewarded according to our works, that is not works of the law. That is our good deeds, or obedience to the spiritual law. Now according to our own effort in going in Godís direction and living Godís way we will be rewarded according to how much we have worked and how much we have accomplished. But that isnít what gives you salvation. Salvation is Godís gift and you donít earn that at all.
Now the people in the other religions of 'Christianity' they say that we are saved by grace through faith, that not of ourselves, it is the gift of God, even that faith that saves us (Ephesians 2:8). But they donít understand that the one who lives a better life and the one who does works more in the work of God, and works harder on himself even, as well as in the work of God, and working towards helping others, will get a bigger reward in the Kingdom. But it has nothing to do with getting into the Kingdom in the first place Ė it only has to do with what you earn once you are in there. Now the one who doesnít do as much work may get into the Kingdom, but he wonít have as big a reward once he gets there. We are rewarded according to our works.
"...wages according to his labor. For we are Godís fellow workers [you, now the we and you, we means, we, Barnabas and he ó and Paul ó and Peter, in other words the apostles who went out preaching Ė we are Godís fellow workers]; but you [you just in the church] are Godís field, Godís building." (I Corinthians 3:9 RSV)
Now there again - Godís building. The Church is compared to a building. That is the temple that Christ is coming to at His Second Coming. He is not coming to a physical building. He is coming to a spiritual building which is the Church. You are His building.
"According to the grace of God given to me like a skilled master builder [someone who is now - he's just building] I laid the foundation," (I Corinthians 3:10 RSV)
Now he knows that the first thing is laying a foundation. Jesus Christ came to build the Church. And He knew Ė He had been a carpenter, but He probably Ė a carpenter to us means saws and nails and wood. Well I think that Christ was a carpenter building with stone, and not with wood and nails and so on. But however, the principle is the same. He had to lay a foundation first and build on that foundation and Christ knew that when He started.
I have been writing on that and I even wrote a little on that this morning in 'What and Why is the Church?' Ė that will come about two months now in The Plain Truth. I am rewriting it now, I have written it once before and I am writing it, all over in much more detail now.
Jesus when He started to build the Church He started by calling His apostles first and they are the foundation. The Church is built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets, with Jesus Christ being the chief corner stone (Ephesians 2:20). Now since He is the chief cornerstone, He is the real foundation, you might say. But in a sense, the apostles and the prophets are part of the foundation along with Christ. That is what Paul is speaking of here. Like a master builder Paul said "I laid the foundation." (I Corinthians 3:10) Now before he said, "I planted and Apollos watered." (I Corinthians 3:6) But what is the foundation for a corn crop in Iowa? Planting the seed. Thatís where it starts. That is only the start, it is only the foundation. Now he says, "I laid the foundation," but thatís the foundation of the building, and now the building is the church. And Christ is the foundation for building the church. He is the Head of it (Ephesians 5:23).
"And another man is building upon it" (I Corinthians 3:10 paraphrased) Now Paul went out and preached first and other men have come later and they have built on it. Alright, I laid the foundation by broadcasting, by articles that are written, by this way and the other way Ė and people come in and they write and finally they get into a local church. Now we have local ministers and they build further. They give them still more. I couldnít give them all of it. The local minister now takes over. He does the watering, but it is God that gives the increase and gives the real character. Now others are building upon it
"Let each man take care how he builds upon it. For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid which is Jesus Christ." (I Corinthians 3:10-11 RSV)
He is the main foundation. But the foundation of the church according to Ephesians 2:20 is also the apostles and the prophets. The prophets were the Old Testament prophets because their writings become part of the foundation of the church and the apostles' preaching and the apostles' writing. The apostles wrote most of the New Testament, and the prophets wrote the words of the Old Testament.
"For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any one builds on the foundation [notice now what he says, how you can build on a foundation, now again he is taking a physical building and is using it as a comparison - a physical building, and so you build on] with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw [now notice the different materials he has used there] -- each manís work will become manifest; for the Day [itís speaking of the Day of the Lord is what he means there] will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work which a man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward [but] If any manís work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire." (I Corinthians 3:11-15 RSV)
Now take this, heís comparing a physical building. If you build of gold, now get this here; gold, silver, precious stones, the fire is only going to make them come out better. They will not burn up. Wood, hay and straw or stubble, the straw or stubble and the hay will just burn like nothing, wood would burn but a little slower, but it is not likely to burn. It shows then if you build with a more precious stone you are building a better building, and one that will endure and last.
He shows with this illustration that Godís way would be for us to build with the better materials. And I thought of that when we were building the Auditorium in Pasadena. There are precious stones in that, and one of the precious stones is onyx and there is more onyx in that building than any other building on the face of the earth today. There is also gold in it and I guess there is some silver and bronze, but there is very fine hard wood, which is much harder to burn, then there is iron and steel that will not burn.
And you know, one of the city inspectors that had to come over and pass inspection on the building as we went along. I saw one of the inspectors one day when I was over there and he said, "Mr. Armstrong," he says, "Youíre building a very strong edifice here." He said, "I want to tell you just how strong this building is." He said, "I donít think you understand how strong it is, Iím here to see and inspect it and see if it is strong enough Ė thatís my business." He said, "If an earthquake comes, this is the safest place you can get Ė right into this building. Or if a fire breaks out, this building is going to be pretty safe."
You know, I thought of that, I have always believed in building with the finer materials. Now Iím sorry if my son didnít agree with that, but he didnít. He believes in building with the cheaper materials, the straw and the hay and the soft inexpensive wood that will burn up quicker. I donít know where he gets those ideas. I know where I get mine Ė I get mine, right out of the word of God.
"If any manís work is burned..." Ė no I read that, now "Do you not know that you are Godís temple?" (I Corinthians 3:16 RSV)
Now here weíre a building. You are a temple. He is not speaking of the individual body being the temple of the Holy Spirit here. That is spoken of in another place in the Bible (I Corinthians 6:19). But here he is speaking collectively of the Church. You, you people, he is writing not to one person, but to the whole Church. You, the whole church are Godís temple. Thatís the temple that Christ is coming to, He is not coming to a physical temple that the Jews are going to have to build over in Jerusalem! God wouldnít have the Jews building, they reject Him and He wouldnít have them reject Him and build His temple. "And that Godís spirit dwells in you." (I Corinthians 3:16) Godís spirit is in the Church because it is a spiritual organism, not a material organization or building.
"If anyone destroys Godís temple, God will destroy him." (I Corinthians 3:17 RSV)
Now, he is not speaking there of destroying the body, he is speaking there of destroying the Church. What about these people that are trying to destroy Godís Church? They make up things. Here is a book written and already the two worst chapters have been circulated. The things that they made up in their own imagination.
You know, what, I was reading in a commentary the other day on NBC, about how Kennedy is trying to get an open convention because he thinks maybe he can get enough votes to win. And the commentator said, if Kennedy had 100 more votes than he needed, more delegates already, he would fight to keep it the other way, he wouldnít want an open convention.
He only wants an open convention because he hasnít got the delegates. He is only thinking of himself. And thatís the way with people who are trying to destroy the Church. They are only thinking of themselves, they are not thinking of Godís temple and Godís building. They think if they can destroy me, and say something against me; the people will turn against the church. And thatís the worst thing of all.
Even if they can say things that are true about me, which they canít because they have no way of knowing any of these things anyway. But even if they knew everything in my past, and if it had been ten times worse than it had been, and they would expose that to the people, and that took one of these little ones that are converted, and they say, "Well, I believed in Mr Armstrong, and if heís that bad, the whole church has got to be bad, Iím going out of it. Iím not going..." and so they donít go into Godís Kingdom, and donít have any salvation any more Ė they have destroyed one simple human soul. They are guilty of the worst murder that they could possibly be guilty of.
Why are they doing it? They donít believe in Godís kind of punishment to help people and to correct them. Godís punishment is because He loves us and wants to help us, wants to correct us. People want to punish because of revenge! They want to see you suffer, they want to destroy, they want to hurt! And here are people trying to destroy Godís Church and Godís college. What about the Ambassador Report that was coming out? If you give them any good report that was all in favor of the college and good news Ė would they report that? Not a word of it! The only thing they can report is something that will hurt.
What about these people that have gone out of the Church and want to say bad things? Alright my own son. What about Ron Dart? What about these other people? Even Wayne Cole now has joined in the brigade. Theyíd do anything they could to hurt, to destroy the Church and all that they think of, the former members, is their mind is still on the Church. Thatís all they think of, morning, noon and night, is the Church. They think what is wrong with the Church.
Oh I tell you, my son Ted had a famous saying Ė 'that mess in Pasadena.' He said, "Well, Dad whenever you get tired of 'that mess in Pasadena' and you want to get out of it..." He wrote me a letter. He said, "In your old age you can have a home with me and my family. Weíll take care of you." He meant that as an insult because he knows I could take care of him. I donít have to have that kind of help.
That shows an attitude and a spirit and that is what Paul is bringing out here. Why is it Paul says as he said in the book of Romans (Romans 16:17) and as it says over in Thessalonians, I believe it is, (II Thessalonians 3:6,14)) that for those who are causing trouble in the church and throwing up division Ė put them out. Get rid of them; put them out of the church. And people say, "Oh, that wouldnít be right. You mustnít put anyone out!" Well, youíve got a crate of apples here and there is one rotten apple. You mustnít put that apple out Ė leave it in and let it rot the ones next to it! Pretty soon that will rot the ones next to them and the whole crate will be rotten. Theyíre all destroyed. If the one that is rotten is already destroyed Ė get rid of it and save all the rest.
Thatís what God says we must do and I do it because God says do it. "Do you not know that you are Godís temple and that Godís Spirit dwells in you?" (I Corinthians 3:16). Is Godís Spirit in this church or is Godís Spirit in these churches that are so angry at us that all they can think about is whatís wrong in this church?
If anyone destroys Godís temple, God will destroy him. "For Godís temple is holy, and that temple you are" (I Corinthians 3:17 RSV). He doesnít mean not each one here, he means you, collectively, the church.
Now, "Let no man deceive himself. If any one among you thinks that he is wise in this age [this age of the world], let him become a fool that he may become wise [in other words, let him become what the world thinks is a fool because the world thinks we are foolish - we believe in God]. For the wisdom of this world is folly [or foolishness] with God. For it is written, "He catches the wise in their craftiness," and again, "The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise are futile" [their foolishness or their wonderful thoughts. The great scientists, the great philosophers of this world]. So let no one boast of men. For all things are yours, and whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future, all are yours; and you are Christís; and Christ is Godís." (I Corinthians 3:18-23 RSV)
I think that this is one of the most important chapters in all the Bible, is that very third chapter of first Corinthians. There is so much there to get that is important.
Now coming to chapter four and I think we can go through it a little faster because there isnít as much that needs comment in it.
Chapter four now: "This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God." (I Corinthians 4:1)
Why are they mysteries of God? Because the natural carnal mind canít understand or comprehend a bit of it. A mystery is, well, letís see what Webster says about a mystery: "A religious truth that man can know by revelation alone and cannot fully understand." [Our mind cannot understand it.] Any of the 15 events of the nativity, the crucifixion, of the - [I didnít know Webster would give that definition, I really didnít] Ė the Assumption." Now letís see: a second definition, hereís another definition: "A Christian sacrament or specifically Eucharist", and so on. Now a main second definition: "Something not understood or beyond understanding." Well it is something that the carnal mind cannot understand, that can be revealed only through the spirit of God. That is where you see Ďmysteryí in the Bible that is what it is talking about. The mysteries of God.
"Moreover it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy." (I Corinthians 4:2 RSV)
Now we have in the Church employees or stewards. I am a steward. I am a steward of Godís money. Have you read the Co-Worker letter? I just read it this morning. I just got my first copy of it this morning. We are not a charitable trust. Our funds donít come from the public. We donít solicit the public for money. We donít receive our money from the public. Our money, our tithes that are Godís money. And they come mostly about 80% from our own members. About 20% from people that are not members, but have voluntarily started becoming regular contributors and we call them Co-Workers. But they are regular, there a lot of them that are regular contributors and I know their hearts have got to be in this Work because their money is in it. But we donít call them members.
Now there is a group we call donors. I didnít go far enough to explain all this in this Co-Worker letter. But the donors are people that might have sent a fairly good amount of money; they might have sent it once. Well we make a record of it, but we donít do anything except to thank them for it. We donít follow it up. Now if six months or so later, or three months or five months, or seven months or ten months, we check and we see on the record that that many months ago they sent an amount and here comes another pretty good amount, then we call them donors. And we have a special list of donors.
Now we donít know that they want to be regular contributors so we donít solicit them for money yet. But in an annual or semi-annual letter, they will get the letter and we will offer them something free like a book or something, but we donít want to actually solicit them for money. Frankly, we hope that some of them will open up their hearts a little bit and send in some more money, but they have to do that voluntarily. We donít beg them for it, we donít ask them outright at all.
However if people are normally...our original...I donít know how they are doing it now in the Mail Processing Department but originally, I had a standard procedure. If anyone sent money twice within six months we put them on a special list and I had a special form letter to make them Co-Workers. And I would send them, they would get this letter from me, it was just a form letter, it is always the same letter off to everybody, of course they donít know a lot of other people had received it. But the letter said, nevertheless, that we had noticed now, that for the second time within six months they had voluntarily sent in money and it had come unsolicited so we are assuming from that that they would like to be a regular Co-Worker.
Now if that assumption is wrong and that is not your intention, if you will just let us know that is not your intention we will never solicit you for money. But assuming that it is your intention that you want to be a Co-Worker, Iím putting you on a special list to receive a letter from me every month, and it will keep you informed on the progress of this Work and the development of the Work. And if we do need more money, and we are in a time of need, and we usual are, incidentally, why, we are going to tell you about it. Because we assume that your heart is in the Work. Jesus said where your treasure is, your heart is also, and you put something of treasure in the Work, if that is the assumption and you donít tell us that it isnít, why you will get this letter every month.
Now then if that is not their intention all they have to do is write us once - not several times, just once, - and say "That is not my intention" and in that case we make a note of that on the files and get into the computer and every time you turn to it you see that, they say they do not want to be a Co-Worker we will never ask them for money again.
I donít know how you can have a Work that is more honest than that. But I am a steward of Godís money and I had to be very careful how that money was handled and I was at the beginning. And I have been all the way along. Thatís why I did hire Mr. Rader because I found that he understood more about a real solid sound book-keeping system than anyone I knew. And so I employed him, oh thatís been a good many years ago now Ė oh I donít know - that must have been close to 20 years ago now isnít it? It must be. And he set up a book-keeping system, an accounting system that is almost puncture proof.
Now no big corporation has a more up to date system than we do. As a matter of fact, it is impossible for anyone even in the department that handles our finances to get away with something without being caught reasonably soon. I know and Mr. Rader knows Ė I certainly think he knows that the funds that come in for this Work are handled honestly. Now if we had the Attorney General or his man Stephen Weisman trying to decide where we could handle money and I had a chance to go down and talk to the founders of a new republic founding a new constitution for a new government in Southwest Africa - theyíre gaining independence and starting a new country and they wanted me to address them and give them information that would help them in drawing up a constitution for a new government - he could have said, "No, I donít think you should handle the funds that way."
If I have a chance to preach the gospel to 18,000 people or 22,000 people in Manila, the Philippines and I need to take along a certain little contingent with me and a lot of literature to spread and to have some ushers and to have someone help with the announcing and so on, then it means a trip over there, he will say, "Oh, no, no! Preach the gospel? What do you mean gospel? I donít know anything about a gospel. Iíve been brought up in a religion that doesnít know anything about a gospel. We donít believe in any gospel." Well they donít believe in Christ at all. This is the Work of Christ; itís the Work of God. And we canít have someone like that deciding how the money is to be spent. Now I am accountable to God and when I need money I donít request it of the public, I get on my knees and ask God to send it and say, ďGod you know that we need the money.Ē
I want to tell you something that I might as well put in this Bible Study for the people in the churches that are going to hear it. Back in 1948 we were just about to lose the only property that we had for the college at the time, which was the present library building and all that goes with it including the lower gardens and what was then the Administration Building, that has become a library annex since.
And by December 27th Ė in fact before that at least, by December 25th, that would have been Christmas Day wouldnít it, but by that time I had to have so many thousand dollars in. Now the Work at that time Ė this was 1948 and the income for the Work was averaging $500 a day or about $3,500 a week and it was coming in fairly regular, just about that much, because there were certain tithe payers and certain Co-Workers, and we werenít soliciting the public and so it was fairly regular. I had done what I could to get money in. I had even made the need known, but I hadnít asked people for money, but I had done everything I could, and it was getting nothing. I had made every effort I could. I had let people know the need, and there was no response. And then I just prayed and made the need known to God and asked Him to take care of it and all of a sudden, about Thanksgiving Day, right around that week, one day $3,000 came in, in one day, when we were averaging $500 a day. Well, that just made me feel a little better. But you know, I didnít think too much of it on one day, but was a great lift Ė oh boy! And you know the next day $3,000 came in again and the next day $3,000 came in again.
Now it averaged Ė it might have been $2,500 and the next day $3,500, but it averaged right around close to $3,000 every day and that kept up until after the middle of December. It kept up until we had $50,000 in the bank in cash Ė and we had never had money like that in our history! It came by prayer and by faith, and not by anything...everything I did did not bring it. I had been trying for 30 days before that to get the money in, because I was trying to work ahead of time and the money was not coming. And we were going to lose all the property and it meant the college would have closed up and we couldnít have continued.
Now it happened that we were also behind in paying salaries to the teachers. It was right near the end of Ė well, we owed some that had only taught the first year of the College that we hadnít even paid yet although they had quit by the following end of May or June. And enough came in to pay up all of that. Enough came in to save the whole property and everything. Thatís the way money comes in. God has approved the way money is being handled by the fact that He still sends in the money.
Now this Co-Worker letter I read it this morning. There is no request for money in it. I did say at the end that I have to make the request known to God and that there is a need continually and I did say that I know you will pray with me that God will supply the need. But frankly I know that that is going to cause some people to send in money, but they will only do it voluntarily. I didnít ask them directly for any money. I very seldom do, but even when I do, it is to our own members and our own Co-Workers; otherwise I just donít do it.
Now letís see if I lost my place here, I wasnít going to take so long on this chapter. Weíve just begun. Well anyway, as stewards, we have to give account and I have always had to give account for my stewardship in the Work of God. And the ministers have to, and we do have to check up and be sure that they are doing it. Well, incidentally, here I find that a certain minister had gotten careless and heíd said things about me. And he was getting a little bit cocky and conceited and saying things that were just a little bit insulting against the Work even. So, he was called on the telephone about it from Pasadena, and here is a letter I had from him. I wonít tell you who it is from. Iíd like to read some of this. I would just like our people to know that this comes from a minister who is a fairly young man. I donít know whether he is thirty yet, or not. I doubt if he is. Heís not much older than that if he is. Heís got a young family starting and he is not in this country. He is in another nation.
"Dear Mr. Armstrong: Someone from Pasadena Headquarters phoned me this morning to inform me that I was being suspended from Christís ministry on the grounds of making critical remarks about you."
Well, it was a little bit more than that. He is treating it pretty lightly right there a little bit. Because if someone just makes a little critical remark about me, they donít get put out of the ministry for that. But we are concerned about their attitude.
"Mr. Armstrong, if I have ever done so, please forgive me as Godís apostle and as I have repented before God."
Now the last thing "...as I have repented before God," I have had other men who have done wrong and they wonít write me like that. This begins to show a right attitude in his heart.
"The last thing in the world that I want to be is disloyal or to show disrespect to you or to the truth that God has shown us through you. The last two years in the Work have been years of fighting for me to prove that loyalty Mr. Armstrong. Iím sure you know what a great loss we suffered," - well there had been a death in the family, "...see as you have taught through Godís word." - even worse than that was another trauma that had come into his family, some private family things that I wonít mention here. "I realize that you have suffered the same and a great deal more and yet continued faithfully Godís calling at the same time. You have had to carry tremendous burdens in the running of the Work. Quite frankly, Mr. Armstrong, you have been a tremendous inspiration and encouragement to us all. I know God will continue to inspire you to the end of this great Work" - and so on.
Well I donít need to read the rest of it, but again he mentions two or three times asking me to forgive him. He knows that I will know, it might come out a little. He knows I know already what he said. And it was just really a smart-aleck kind of remark, it wasnít anything vicious. I think he was, well he was getting a little careless in the fact that he shouldnít have said it, but there was more than that and anyway if shows a right attitude. Now, weíre going to work a little bit with that man because we feel certainly that he can be restored to a completely right attitude and make good. So heís not going to lose his job. Neither do the flock need to lose the help of a man like that. But he isnít...heís like these people that Paul wrote to. He isnít full 100% grown yet. Heís got lessons to learn. Now we have to know that and we have to have patience with some of the people as they come along.
So he says, "...it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court." (I Corinthians 4:2-3 RSV)
Iím being judged by a human court right now. And Iím being judged by many of the membership in the Church. And as I was saying before we started this Bible Study, there is a tendency of Godís own people in the Church to want to judge their own leaders. They want to sit in judgment and they want to decide.
The people in the whole United States are beginning now to judge whether we want Mr. Carter any longer in the office. That is the system of democracy we have been brought up in and we are living in a nation dedicated to the system of democracy. And the first thing you know we are living that way in the Church. You see, who is the one to judge whether I should continue in my job or not? Iím not elected by the people! None of you in this room, none of you listening to me that will be hearing this tape later, voted to put me into the office where I am. I am not responsible to you. Iím responsible to the One who put me here Ė it was Jesus Christ! Now is He on the job or do you think He needs your help? Maybe you say, "Well Jesus Christ I donít think you are doing your job very well. Iím going to take it over and do it in your place. I donít think you are judging Mr Herbert Armstrong; Iím going to judge him!"
You see, some of them came to Moses back there. God Ė it was the same one who became Jesus Christ, Heís God. And He'd selected Moses and he'd put Moses in the job where he was. But this Korah and his people came up and they said, ďMoses why do you set yourself up and put yourself up on such a high seat. Who do you think you are?Ē And so they questioned him. They were going to sit in judgment (Numbers 16).
Well, God just had the earth open up and swallow them. God was full of, well God was Ė whatís the word I want? He was angry and He just simply did away with them! Now they had been given a fairly high position in the Work. They were men of renown, you know, you go back and read of it, but they werenít satisfied. They wanted a higher seat and they wanted to blame Moses. So, God took care of them. Well God is my judge. And I tell you, Iím going to be judged with a whole lot greater judgment than the rest of the brethren because God has given me a greater responsibility. He is going to hold me more strictly accountable than He is the other brethren. If the other brethren want to sit back and judge, some of them, well that is not what God has called the brethren to do.
"But with me it is a very small (thing) that I should be judged by you or by any human court." (I Corinthians 4:3 RSV)
Here were people who would sit in the church were sitting in judgment of the apostle Paul. I know what Paul meant because I suffered the same thing.
"I do not even judge myself. I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart." (I Corinthians 4:3-5 RSV)
God looks on the heart. Now when the Lord comes, is He going to disclose the old King David of ancient Israel, saw Bathsheba taking a bath and had her brought in and committed adultery with her? Got her pregnant and then had her husband killed so he could marry her. Is He going to bring up the fact that God told him, donít take a census and donít number Israel and knowing that God had said donít do it, that David went ahead and did it anyway? No, I donít think when Christ comes in the judgment He is going to bring that up against David at all.
Do you know why? Because David has already repented of that and Christ has already forgiven it! And Christ has come and took that penalty on Himself and died and paid the price for David. And itís all paid for! And there is no penalty hanging over David any longer from those two things. And God said David is a man after my own heart.
I wonít say Iíve never committed sin. Iím human. Iíve committed sins and so have everyone of you. But when I have repented and when God has forgiven it and when Jesus came and bled to death to pay for it, I donít have to pay for it all over again. So, who is going to sit in judgment of me and say, ďWell I havenít done anything as bad as David did. Iíve never murdered anyone. I never got some other woman pregnant in my life either. I never did those things. I never did what God came and told me personally to my own face, donít do and then I went ahead and did it.Ē And David told his Army General, go ahead and make this census and his General said, ďOh David please donít do that, God said donít do it, and youíre disobeying God. And David said, ďI know, but you go and do it anyhow.Ē
Who can do anything worse than that? I never have. Well now who is going to sit in judgment on me?
What about that woman caught in adultery? Jesus forgave her. Now are some of us going to condemn her when sheís resurrected in the judgment? Iím not. Iím not. She must have repented or Jesus wouldnít have forgiven her. Jesus said just go and sin no more (John 8:11). I tell you, we need to realize these things.
"...then every man will receive his commendation from God. I have applied all this to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brethren, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another [and weíve had some of that in the Church too, with one all kind of puffed up with one against another within the Church and we should not have any of that]. For who sees anything different in you? What have you that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if it were not a gift [you didnít produce it]? Already you are filled! Already you have become rich! Without us you have become kings! And would that you did reign so that we might share the rule with you! For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels and to men." (I Corinthians 4:5-9 RSV)
Makes me think that back in the days when I was with the Sardis church back in Oregon. Their ministers persecuted me, they considered that I was the least of the ministers Ė I was the little tail end. They were ignorant men with practically no education, only one among them had ever had any College education and he only had one year. And I know that I had more than the equivalent of a complete college education. I didnít get it that way; nevertheless I got it the hard way. And I had it. I was the least of the ministers. Iíve never considered, I have never boasted of myself. Who of you has heard me say "I built this great Work. I did this"? Now another man claimed he built this Work, but he is not even in the Church any longer. He didnít build it. Jesus Christ built it. Remember some of us can do some planting and some watering but we donít give the increase. We donít produce the growth, God does and we must remember that.
"We are fools for Christís sake..." (I Corinthians 4:10 RSV)
That is they appeared fools before the world because the truth of God is like foolishness to the world. And we who are ministers, and we who have worked and sweated the hard way and let God give us the truth and have gradually got that truth out to you and all of the truth you have has come through Ė well directly or indirectly, it all came through me, and then indirectly from me but directly through some of the local ministers and pastors - youíve received it through the minister, but donít boast against the ministry as if the members are superior, because they are not
"...but you are wise in Christ;"(I Corinthians 4:10) Paul is getting a little sarcastic right here because he is suffering the sting. And Iíve suffered it and I tell you I know what it is Ė you labor for the people and they are so willing to believe the false rumor. They are so willing to believe something that someone makes up in their own mind to accuse you. And it is Satan who does the accusing Ė not Christ.
"...we are weak but you are strong [you can just see his sarcasm, the way Paul is talking here]. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. To the present hour we hunger and thirst. We are ill-clad and buffeted and homeless and we labor, working with our hands." (I Corinthians 4:10-12 RSV)
Now Iíve had to do that. I have had to live with a whole lot less than the members of the Church, when I and my family had to live on less and the less income and couldnít wear as good clothes than the members of the Church. Thatís the way it was when this Church started and the raising up of this very church. For a long time, I went down to three days at one time, two or three days and worked long hours all day long out in the woods and I fell down one great tree and it was about 150 years old because I could count the rings on the tree after I had sawn through it. It was a very large tree and it was a whole winterís wood supply. Now we burned wood up in Oregon. And we had very little electricity or anything like that. We even had a wood stove in the kitchen to cook by and we had to heat the house with wood heat. And I had to chop up all that wood and I had to chop up wood every morning and every day at home.
Iíve gone with what I call 'righteous shoes' because they had holey soles! Iíve had to come to the place where the brethren took pity on me because my one suit I had, the only suit I had to my name, was getting so shabby it wasnít fit. And one of the brethren went around, and I didnít know it was being done, and took up an offering from the other brethren and got me another suit of clothes. Those things are a little humiliating for one who had been making what in todayís money would be $175,000 a year, before I was converted.
But Iíve gone through all of that. So I know how Paul felt. At this time, Paul was working with his hands rather than take the tithes of the people although he was entitled to take their tithes. But they didnít want to even pay what God had said was His.
"When reviled, we [we ministers] bless, when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we try to conciliate, we are become, and are now, as the refuse of the world, the offspring of all things [looked down upon. Iíve had to go through that now for 53 1/2 years]. I do not write this [Paul says] to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children." (I Corinthians 4:12-14 RSV)
And I say that to all that will hear this Bible Study. You are all one way or another, directly or indirectly my children in the Lord, just as these people were Paulís children.
"For though you have countless guides in Christ [you all have your local ministers- and they're good guides in Christ, and now weíve got the ministry pretty well cleaned up-we have some very fine ministers now in the church], you do not have many fathers, for I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I urge you then, be imitators of me [or follow me]. Therefore [he says] I send to you Timothy [he was sending Timothy to be with them], my beloved and faithful child in the Lord to remind you of my ways in Christ as I teach them everywhere in every church. Some are arrogant as though I were not coming to you." (I Corinthians 4:15-18 RSV)
Now some of them in the Church were arrogant and we may have some like that. I donít think there are too many of that kind in Godís Church today. I really think we have been getting back on the track; we really have, in the last two years. But there might be one or two yet somewhere around the world.
"...as though I were not coming to you. But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills and I will find out not the talk of these arrogant people [or puffed up people as it is in the King James] but (in) their power. For the Kingdom of God does not consist of talk but of power." (I Corinthians 4:19-20 RSV)
Now Paul had the power and he knew he could wield it. And Iíll tell you some of these ministers that have felt more important than I when I have given an order, they have obeyed it. Because they knew what would happen if they didnít. And they knew that I had the power and the power of Jesus Christ was back of it. And it was the power of Christ that I was using and they knew it and they were afraid to defy that power.
"What do you wish? Shall I come to you with a rod or with love in a spirit of gentleness?"(I Corinthians 4:21 RSV)
Paul was coming to them. Now he meant if he come with a rod, or to whip you, to beat you, or do you want me to come with gentleness? He was telling them, now he wouldnít have used a rod of iron or anything against them, but heís using that figuratively to show that he had power Ė and the power of Christ.
Now we come on next, that takes us up to the fifth chapter, and then he launches right in, in the fifth chapter to one that had to be put out of the church. And that shows the example and we will see in the next Bible Study how when someone is wrong, it is not wrong to put them out of the church. Itís just like I say if you have a crate of apples, fine juicy apples, just ripe, just ripe enough, just right. But one of them somehow got rotten; you are not harming the crate by throwing that one rotten apple out, youíre saving it. But yet some people think if we put someone who is hindering the church out that we are doing wrong. Oh no, that is what God says we must do. And so we will obey God and not man.