10 LESSONS FOR THE CHURCH
by Jeffrey Hagan
1 & 2 Corinthians
Lesson 1: Don't divide.
1 Corinthians 1:10, "I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment."
Paul appealed to the church at Corinth to be united with no divisions. He wanted them to see the wisdom and greatness of Jesus’ work on the cross over the wisdom and greatness of the preachers and teachers they were following. Paul reminded them that God chose the weak, foolish, low and despised of this world to preach the power of Christ crucified. So, when we boast, may we only boast in the Lord.
Lesson 2: Don't be a stumbling block.
1 Corinthians 8:9, "But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak."
The New Covenant of Christ gives us freedom, but we need to have others in mind if we are to exercise this freedom properly. You see, idol worship was a major part of the culture in Corinth. Most of the new believers would have come out of this practice. So, eating meat sold in the market place, that had first been offered to idols, became an issue for the church. Many in the church most likely suffered for their choice to follow God and so their conscience would not allow them to eat the meat offered to idols. It may have felt like a denial of Christ to them. So, Paul reminded the church that love should rule over their freedom to eat meat. Freedom in Christ is a delicate balance. While we are free to enjoy many things, we must consider if abstaining from certain things would be the more loving choice.
Lesson 3: Don't abuse the Lord's Supper.
1 Corinthians 11:29, "For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself."
The Lord’s Supper was causing division in the Corinthian church. Paul explained that they were taking it irreverently and selfishly. That is a dangerous thing to do. He called on them to examine themselves before they took of the cup and bread or they would face discipline from the Lord.
Lesson 4: Don't forget love is the goal of spiritual gifts.
1 Corinthians 12:26, "If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together."
Every single believer has been given at least one gift of the Holy Spirit of those that are still available today. Spiritual gifts are not given for self-glorification but to glorify God and to build up the body of Christ. Love is the goal of the spiritual gifts. The Church is meant to function as a body. If one part is hurting, we should all hurt. Spiritual gifts are practical in nature. They are to be used to care for one another. This is why divisions and fighting in the church displease the Lord. God wants us to have a loving heart towards one another.
Lesson 5: Don't fear death.
1 Corinthians 15:55-57, "Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
Because death has been swallowed up in victory and we have hope of a resurrection with Christ, we can stand firm. We can be immovable. We can work hard serving the Lord knowing that all of our labor is not in vain. There is a sure hope of eternal life with Jesus.
Lesson 6: God comforts us so we can comfort others.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God."
Paul wanted the church to understand that God comforts those who are “in... affliction" and that they should comfort those who are going through suffering because “we ourselves are comforted by God". Paul saw that the Corinthian church which had disfellowshipped an unrepentant sinner must now receive him back into the fold because God forgives and restores those who repent and confess their sins (2:5-11) and he expects the church to do the same.
Lesson 7: God reconciles and we should reconcile.
2 Corinthians 5:11-6:13
2 Corinthians 13:11, 'Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you."
Because the New Covenant is one of unfading glory it is a wonderous ministry because God uses frail, feeble, earthen vessels to display His glory (4:7-5-1). That’s why Paul spoke sincerely in proclaiming the gospel, without any internal motives (4:3). Paul tells the Corinthians that this gospel had previously been hidden by the “god of this world" which had blinded them so that they wouldn’t believe (4:4). Paul expounds on this ministry of reconciliation (5:11-6:13) and why believers are to be separate from the ways of the world (6:14-7-4). They should be “new creatures" in Christ as all of the old things in our life “are passed away" (5:17) which was made possible because "he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Cor. 5:21).
Lesson 8: God is generous so we should be generous.
2 Corinthians 8:9, "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich."
Paul shares how the church at Macedonia gave out of their poverty (8:1-7) and displayed the same example of Christ (8:8-9). This is why it is a reasonable expectation for the church to give because Christ gave all that He had, which included Himself (8:10-9:15).
Lesson 9: God gives authority to the true church so we should protect that authority.
2 Corinthians 10:1 - 13:10 (False teachers).
It seems like every church that Paul wrote to experienced false teachers and part of this particular group's false teachings were that some claimed to be Christ’s apostles, which they were not (10:1-13:10). It seems that this problem is still continuing today, so it's nothing that was limited to the first century. Paul revealed that true spiritual power was not of human origin (10:1-12) but from God Himself so there was absolutely no reason that anyone should brag or boast about it (10:13-11:21). Instead, they should boast in their weaknesses because God’s strength is only displayed in weakness and that glorifies Him even more (11:22-33). Paul declared his apostolic authority through the severe persecutions he endured, something that these false apostles had never endured (11:23-28).
Lesson 10: God gives warnings and we should give warnings.
2 Corinthians 2:13, "I warned those who sinned before and all the others, and I warn them now while absent, as I did when present on my second visit, that if I come again I will not spare them."
Paul seems to give them notice that they should deal with the sinners in the church or Paul would “not spare" them when he arrived (13:2). Also, every member of the church at Corinth should examine themselves “whether they are in the faith" thereby proving themselves whether Christ is in them or not (13:5). This is something that Christians need to do today because the human heart is so deceitful and wicked, we cannot even know our own heart or whether our motives are godly or of the flesh.