The grand message of I Corinthians is: "Sanctified in Christ Jesus." Ch. I, ver. 2. "He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one wherefore He is not ashamed to call them brethren."
C. J. Rolls A
BOOKS of the BIBLE
THE FIRST EPISTLE
TO THE CORINTHIANS
Therefore the central feature of this epistle is contained in ch. 6, ver. 17. "He that is joined to the Lord is one Spirit."
In view of the diversity of nations, peoples and tongues this unity becomes the more unique. The many members are united in one body under the control of one Head and are seen functioning in unison as one Church. The governing principle is Christian love which is to arbitrate in all questions of order and practice.
The key to the whole epistle consists of this mystical union of Christ and His people.
(a) Therefore factions and schisms in the church are detrimental to this unity and en- danger harmony.
(b) The marriage of man and woman demonstrates the sanctity of the union and expresses society.
(c) The eating of idolatrous meats dese- crates the dignity of the union and enfeebles the sincerity of it.
(d) Unchaste moral behaviour defiles the purity of its character and eschews its piety.
(e) The Lord's supper for commemoration declares the society of the union and emblem- ises its one-ness.
(f) The gifts for edification display the ministry of this union and enrich the whole body, while
(g) The resurrection of Christ and His people discloses the destiny of the union and ensures its permanency.
In the measure in which this union is real- ised, to that extent will the whole man, spirit, soul and body be affected.
"There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit, there are differences of administration but the same Lord, and there are diversities of operations but the same God which worketh all in all." Ch. 12: 4-6.
These three should be carefully noted in the governance colouring the whole of the inspira- tion, induction and instruction.
SANCTIFIED IN CHRIST. SUSTAINED BY THE SPIRIT.
SPIRITUAL SPIRITUAL SPIRITUAL SPIRITUAL
FACILITIES. FORCES. FACTORS. FEATURES.
Ch. 1-11 Ch. 12-14 Ch. 15. Ch. 16.
(a) The Worthiness The Functions of The Message of Contributing
of Christ Life in Unity, Resurrection. to the work.
(b) The Wisdom Ch. 12. The Ministry of Considering
of God. The Features of the workers.
(c) The Wonders Love in Unanimity. Resurrection.
Ch. 13. The Majesty of Consolidating
of The Spirit. The Fulness of Resurrection. the Witness.
(d) The Witness Light in Utility. The Mystery of Cheering
of The Church. Ch. 14. Resurrection. the Weary.
The Unity of the The Unity of the The Unity of Truth. The Unity in Service.
(1) SPIRITUAL FACILITIES. Ch. 1-11.
We shall submit a few examples of the first only "Spirit" and "spiritual" rank prominent- ly in the paramount teachings. The Spiritual nature of the epistle is very impressive and we are introduced to:-
Spiritual Things, ch. 2:1 3.
Spiritual Discernment, ch. 2:1 4.
Spiritual Men, ch. 2.15, 3:1, 14:37.
Spiritual Seed, ch. 9:11.
Spiritual Food, ch. 10:3-4.
Spiritual Rock, ch. 10:4.
Spiritual Gifts, ch. 12:1, 14:1.
Spiritual Bodies, cli. 15:44, 46.
Notice also the high honour that is paid to the Spirit. A selection giving a seven-fold view of His work in the believer must suffice. Christians are:-
Empowered by the Spirit in speech for service. Ch. 2:4.
Enlightened by the Spirit in knowledge for perception. Ch. 2:10, 1 3.
Engraced by the Spirit, indwelt for sanctity and perfecting. Ch. 3:1 6.
Endowed by the Spirit, cleansed and trans- formed. Ch. 6:11, 19.
Enabled by the Spirit for faith and confes- sion. Ch. 12:3.
Enriched by the Spirit with gifts to profit. Ch. 12:7, 11.
Environed by the Spirit for unity and com- pleteness in witness. Ch. 12:13.
The chart deals first with spiritual facilities, chs. 1 - 11. The divine title, "Christ," occurs fourteen times in the opening seventeen verses. With ver. 18 the subject changes and the title "God" occurs eighteen times down to the eighth verse of ch. 2. From ch. 2, ver. 9, to ver. 16 "Spirit" and "Spiritual" are referred to ten times.
THE SUPREMACY OF CHRIST.
Ch. 1, vers. 1-17.
Mr. H. Yolland, Dean of the N.Z. Bible Training Institute, pointed out years ago that four references to figures reflecting Christ are quoted from the Old Testament, and four only. These are the "cursed tree." the "Passover," the "Rock" and the "First-fruits." The first of these is fulfilled in the Crucifixion. ch. 1:23, ch. 2 :2. The second is realised in the Emanci- pation. "Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us." Ch. 5, ver. 7. The third is expressed in Salvation. "They all drank of that Spiritual Rock which followed them," Ch. 10:4, and the fourth reveals Redemption of the body, "Christ the First-fruits, afterwards they that are Christ's at His coming." Ch. 15, ver. 20. These four are summed up in the thirtieth verse of the first chapter, "Who of God is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctifi- cation and redemption."
The wisdom of God is displayed in the Crucifixion, ch. 1:23. The righteousness of God is declared in the Passover when the blood shielded from judgment. The sanctifi- cation is disclosed in the Smitten Rock which separated them from calamity and secured them frcm perishing. The redemption of the body is demonstrated in Christ the First-fruits, Who is risen from the dead. The worthiness of Christ is next followed by the wisdom of God.
THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD.
Ch. 1, ver. 18 to ch. 2, ver. 8.
The sovereignty of God is expressed by His choice. He has chosen the "foolish things," the "weak things," the "despised things" and the "things that are not." If we take careful notice we shall find these four indivisibly join- ed to the fourfold presentation of Christ that we have just considered. That which man esteems foolish, "crucifixion on a tree." God uses to demonstrate His wisdom. ch. 1 :24, and by this means He has brought man's under- standing to nought, ver. 1 9. Things that man esteems as being a form of weakness are mat- ters of righteousness. Some maintain that business is business, and if one is to get on in life it is no use allowing scruples to hold him back. The next aspect of God's choice relates to "despised things." and there are few mat- ters that the carnal mind has greater antipathy toward than "sanctity." The sarcastic way in which some folk speak of others by calling them 'sanctimonious hypocrites' shows their deep-seated resentment toward this spiritual truth. The last factor is God's choice of "things that are not" which refers to the realities of final redemption, when the body itself shall be delivered from corruption and fashioned like to the body of His glory.
John reminds us that 'it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when He shall appear we shall be like Him.' These are the things that are not yet realised in our experience, but when they transpire the things that now exist will vanish.
All these features are suggested in the case of the leper when he came before the high priest and a white spot was discovered on his head. Four orders were imposed. The patient was compelled to shave his head, rend his garment, cover his upper lip and cry "un- clean" and also to withdraw a distance of three miles from the camp.
The shaving of the head implies no wisdom, the rending of the garment suggests no right- eousness, the upper lip covered and the cry "unclean" denotes no sanctity, and being os- tracized to a place outside the camp far from, the altar of sacrifice teaches that the leper himself is devoid of any means of cleansing. Therefore as one without the camp he has no redemption.
These matters are to teach us "that no flesh should glory in His presence," ch. 1:22. How- ever God does not abandon man and leave him in such a plight, "But of Him are Ye in Christ Jesus Who of God is made unto us Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification and Re- demption. Therefore let him that glorieth glory in the Lord." I Cor. 1:30-31.
On one occasion, during a tent campaign in the South of England, a personal friend of mine preached on this text. The daughter of an old lady of eighty-two years of age attend- ed and on returning home rehearsed to her aged mother the remarkable address she had heard on the subject of "Safeguard Square," during which the speaker had urged all pres- ent to take up their residence therein. The old lady listened intently and after retiring she asked herself the question, "Have I at any time in my life entered that Square?" In deep concern she arose, turned to her Bible and re-read the portion. Shortly after midnight she entered into "Safeguard Square," remem- bering the assurance, "I am the Door, by Me if any man enter in he shall be saved." Taking up her pen she wrote a letter to the preacher which she finished at 2 a.m. 'with these lines:- "Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification and Redemption.
From judgment, sin and hell, a full exemption, Eternal life, a home with Christ, how fair! Gladly I take my stand in Safeguard Square."
THE SUFFICIENCY OF THE SPIRIT. Ch. 2,
In addition to the Cross of Christ and the Choice of God in the preceding section there is also the Call of the Holy Spirit Who con- tributes yet another four-fold repleteness. Notice here that the eye, ear, heart and mind suffice in figure for all the spiritual faculties by which we receive knowledge.
The Light of the body is the eye, the Listen- ing faculty is the ear, the Love capacity is the heart, while the Life's liberty is determined by the mind. and we have the mind of Christ. Ver. 16.
These are the four main avenues through which the great cardinal blessings of Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification and Redemption that are in Christ are received and become our own.
The Spirit Who knows the mind of the Lord perfectly can fully impart to us the knowledge we need.
Sixteen out of the twenty-nine occurrences of the great word "knowledge" in the New Testament are made use of in this epistle to the Corinthian Church.
THE STRUCTURE OF LIFE Ch. 3.
The Spirit of discrimination introduced at the close of ch. 2 becomes intensely active in ch. 3.
(a) The Spirit of Instruction, vers. 1-4. dis- tinguishes between the obvious features that characterise the Spiritual man in contrast to the carnal man.
(b) The Spirit of Education, vers. 5-9 pre- sents the true methods of development, growth and increase together with the assurance of compensation for faithful toil.
(c) The Spirit of Construction occupies vers. 10-14 where the spiritual structure is contrasted with carnal construction. God's building. God's husbandry and God's temple are the figures used and the materials are gold which is emblematic of righteousness: silver, the symbol of redemption and precious stones which in the majority of cases in the New Testament refer to the souls of men.
In broad contrast to this the carnal Christians labour with the unprofitable materials of wood, hay and stubble, the last looming largest in appearance but which is, in reality, of least consequence.
(d) The Spirit of Consecration in vers. 15-17 plainly shows that the signficance of the instruction relates not to material things but spiritual. False teaching and formal practice have a destructive influence on this Temple. Abraham, Lot and Lot's wife illustrate the three true characters of this section.
(e) The Spirit of Renunciation, vers. 18-23, in relation to all worldliness and human wis- dom is very essential to spiritual growth. With- out such the results prove disastrous and carn- ality is exhibited by inability incapacity, in- efficiency, impotency, instability, incompetency and immaturity.
THE STEWARDSHIP OF PAUL. Ch. 4.
(a) The Spirit of Identification, ch. 4, vers. 1-13, is a further stage of advance. 'Ministers of Christ' and 'stewards of the mysteries of God,' denote the reality of the trust committed.
Justification does not depend on human or personal judgment, but the God Who grants the capacity for service also gives the com- pensation. Paul's method in this stewardship was to address words of correction to himself and Apollos when he meant them to apply to the Corinthians. The full example of this is found in ch. 13; "Though I speak," "though I give," "though I bestow," etc., was for their sakes. Such stewardship was not all sunshine but was attended with suffering and shame. The custom of exhibiting the worst type of criminals before the assembled multitudes in the amphitheatre in order to gain public assent before executing them is referred to in ver. 9.
(b) The Spirit of Regeneration, vers. 14-17. The solemn responsibility involved is to re- produce your own kind by the power of the Gospel and set the children an example.
(c) The Sprit of Administration, vers. 8-21. Children thus begotten and instructed also need discipline and the rod as well as love must be in exercise.
THE STAIN OF IMMORALITY. Ch. 5.
(a) The Spirit of Union, vers. 1-2. The matter considered here is based on the wedlock of the Spirit which is implied as being griev- ously violated by this unseemly behaviour.
(b) The Spirit of Correction, vers. 3-13. There is an exposure made here which shows that immoral conduct that is permitted on the pretence of an exalted Christian liberty is in- stigated by satanic cunning. Therefore the guilty person is delivered to the same source for discipline, ver. 5. Peter had a similar ex- perience, Math. 16:23 with Luke 22:31.
Emancipation from the teaching and tyran- ny of the evil one may be realised on the same ground as the Passover deliverance which fore- shadowed Christ our Deliverer, ver. 7. The purpose of Christ's sacrifice is not to grant license to sin but to gain the liberty of holy living, ver. 8.
THE SHAME OF LITIGATION. Ch. 6.
(a) The Spirit of Adjudication occupies vers. 1 - 11. Civil judges are not the best arbiters for spiritual realities, and those destined for sharing the government of the world and of angels. vers. 2-3, are lowering their dignity when they resort to lower tribunals. There is evidently a dash of satire in ver. 4 which is caustic but clean. Hinduism teaches that all appetites, irrespective of their class or kind are as legitimate as our hunger for food and are therefore to be gratified. But free love is rightly called fornication, vers. 9. 18. The Spirit of God is the true judge Who states the conditions for both entrance into and exclusion from the Kingdom of God. vers. 9-10.
(b) The Spirit of Purification, vers. 11 - 14. The washing, sanctifying and justifying are likewise all by the Spirit, ver. 11. The con- trol of the Spirit is therefore reasonable and righteous, and so Paul refused to submit to any other power, ver. 12. We pass here from the aspect of possessing the Spirit, expressed in the second chapter, to the Spirit possessing us and the body having been surrendered to God, God supports the body.
(c) The Spirit of Union, vers. 15-18. This portion leads up to the very centre of the teaching. "He that is joined to the Lord is one Spirit." The ownership of ver. - 13 is followed by one-ness, vers. 17 and issues in obligation, vers. 19-20. The one-ness expres- ses union with All-holy being, by partaking of God's Spirit. Union with the nature of God is holiness; union with His will and plan is peace; union with His omnipotence is power, while union with the incorruptness of God is glory. These conceptions are the strands in the golden thread which runs all through the two Corinthian Epistles.
The ideal is that of the marital bond, the figure of the holy wedlock being carried out so as to imply a monopoly for exclusive love and entire loyalty.
There is no greater figure among the many used of our mystical union than this one. The Believers and the Lord express one fellowship, the Shepherd and the sheep suggest one flock, the Temple and the stones exhibit one struc- ture, the Vine and the branches denote one growth, the Body and the members entail one organism. The husband and wife indicate one flesh, Father and children advance one family, the King and subject advocate one common- wealth, the ranks and the Captain direct to one command, yet in all these division is conceiv- able, but not so in One Spirit.
(d) The Spirit of Habitation, vers. 19-20. We are bought and indwelt, the body belongs to the spirit and both belong to God. The spirit of man is in control of the body and the Spirit of God is in control of all. See also chap. 9:27.
The Temple of God is the oracle of the Spirit of Wisdom and, as a dwelling place, "the house of God" is exclusively His own abode. This structure as a "holy place" is the abiding centre of the Spirit of Holiness and Consecration, while as a sanctuary it constitutes a sphere of service where the spirit of obed- ience ministers.
Christ first intimated these spiritual realities when He said, "If a man love Me . . . we will come and make our abode with him." John 14:23. This epistle expands the teaching to a sublime magnitude and shows how incon- gruous litigation is, where such divine rights prevail.
THE SUBJECT OF MARRIAGE. Ch. 7.
The ten references to "Lord" in Chapter seven carry forward the thought of this same exclusive right of control. The sevenfold cen- sure for seven conspicuous faults about which the Corinthians had made no mention are now followed by answers to their questions con- cerning marriage, divorce, celibacy and slav- ery. Paul's realised union with Christ entitled him to advise, without his having to be en- joined to do so. Ver. 6. The difference lies between spiritual thought and inspiration which many modern minds confuse.
Four principles together with the three con- sequences that result are thus taught:-
(a) The appeal of the Lord's call. Ver. 17. Circumcision is nothing, but the keep- ing of God's commands is everything.
(b) The abiding in that calling. Ver. 20. If a man is enslaved as a bondservant, let him labour in the spirit of one eman- cipated by Christ.
(c) The associate is God Himself. Ver. 24. Remember we have been purchased for God's own possession; let us see to it that He receives His share of our company.
(d) The absence of anxiety experienced. Ver. 32.
The purity, sympathy, courtesy and liberty contained in these instructions stand in sharp contrast to the Shastras, Upanishards and Vedas of Hindooism.
The consequences are of great importance-
(a) Liberty is centred in the Christ, ver. 39, so that union with Spirit is the con- trolling law.
(b) Labour for the glory of God, ver. 22, 23 also ch. 10:31. Let all that is done be rendered as work for the Lord with singleness of eye and heart.
(c) Live in the sanctity of the Spirit, ver. 14. Under law the ceremonially un- clean were ejected, Ezra ch. 10 ver. 3, but under grace this is not the case. Ver. 14.
The perspective in all this consists in right adjustment because of the revealed realities, "The time is short" vers. 29-31; "Time is shortened", "Time is dwarfed," "Time is contracted." Why is this? Because eternal things have been unveiled.
Eternity is a subject that alarms, confuses and humbles the human intellect. The human mind can grasp defined time, determined range or definite space, but that which is beginning- less and endless clouds the conception. baffles thought and staggers reason. Human insignifi- cance and Divine imponderableness are both interpreted by eternity.
"ALL SUFFICIENCY IN ALL THINGS" ---
PROVISlON. All sufficiency for equip- ment and supply. 2 Cor. 9:8. So we are warned that if we sow sparingly we shall reap sparingly.
"ALL THINGS UNDER HIS FEET"
SUBJUGATION. All subduing of foes, Ch. 15:27, 28. The unsubmitted, the rebellious, the opposers and the deniers must all submit.
The first creation was marred by the enemy. The Devil mastered the human mind and led man to degrade the Creator by worship of the creature. Rom. 1. Now he seeks to mar the new creation and three of his devices are out- standing:-
(a) A Doubting of Truth-"Hath God said ?" which leads to Rationalism.
(b) A Deceitful Inference-"lt is written" as when tempting Christ which indi- cates Universalism.
(c) A Devised Gospel-"Another gospel" devised by the angel of light, yet not another but merely Evolutionism.
Let us be warned of the danger of making the Cross of Christ of none effect. Ch. 1:17, by carnality, incapacity or idolatry, and there- by lose the realisation of the fulness of bless- ing and privilege.
THE SACRIFICE OF RIGHTS. Ch. 9.
The rights of an apostle are expressed in vers. 1-15. The word "right" is rendered by the word "power" five times in the chapter. The instruction is the logical outcome of recog- nising the supreme claim and ownership of Christ. There are degrees in estimating Christ's worthiness, some men recognise Him, others respect Him and even revere Him, but real love for Him does not exist until the Holy Spirit sheds abroad that love in our hearts.
The Holy Spirit is the only perfect lover of Christ on earth. Therefore, the true standard is not "for conscience' sake." "for conviction's sake" or "for conflict's sake," but "for My Name's sake."
Paul expressed four assertions concerning his legitimate rights in four different spheres with regard to suitable food. ver. 3; seemgly affection. ver. 5; sensible recreation, ver. 6; and seasonable remuneration. vers. 11 - 12. But Paul would not permit appetite, affection, ac- tivities or awards to master him in any wise, but held to the mastery of Christ, and subor- dinated every other appeal to His superior administration. If Christians allow food to hinder, affection to hazard, recreation to ham- per, and the matter of remuneration to hold up devoted service, then we have not recognised Christ's Lordship nor His absolute right. Paul's denying himself legitimate things had principle and purpose in it and he desired others to do the same.
The resolves of an apostle, vers. 16-27.
(a) His evangelical earnestness, vers. 16-18. The talents bestowed on any man bring responsibility, and he knew that faithful service would lead to sure re- ward, so he determined not to disquali- fy himself by the misuse of privilege.
(b) His effective endeavour, vers. 19-23. Love not only restrains but constrains. All are required to act as under the umpire, keeping the one dominating desire of soul-winning uppermost. The aim is to become a living exponent of the Gospel and be a partaker with others by exhibiting the message, ver. 23, or as stated in the second letter, "A living epistle known and read of all men.
"Give me the power to feel for souls
that Christ would heal,
Give me the power to see with sight
But most of all give me the power to
love like Thee,
O Love Divine.
(c) His eager expectation. vers. 24-27. The herald who called the contestants to the starting point in the games an- nounced three rules. The runner needed to give proof that he was pure, free and clear of all taint and treason. lf he failed to satisfy the judges on any one point, he was "cast away" and forbidden to compete. Paul did not want to be one that urged others to the race, while he was rejected and disqualified.
Seeing that the promoters of the races, on the famous grounds of the Isthmian Plain so near to Corinth, distributed coveted though perishable wreaths to the victors, Paul was anxious for their sakes and his own to obtain Divine ap- proval and to gain an imperishable crown.
THE SAMPLES OF CONDUCT. Ch. 10.
The Fourteenfold use of the word 'all' in Ch. 10 supplies evidence of the widespread responsibility that is involved. The discipline of this devotion includes all who call upon His name.
Startling Facts, Vers. 1-12, are recalled of the wonderful start Israel had when deliv- ered from Egyptian bondage, and of the spirit- ual resource that was furnished to them. These features signify our own privileges which are far greater. Their Rock of Resource was actu- ally Christ, ver. 4, and our danger lies in dis- regarding His Dignity. Ver. 9.
The use of 'neither' in verses 7, 8, 9 and 10 recalls four of the ten provocations of the wilderness when mind, heart, will and con- science were hardened.
We are warned not to allow such things to be repeated in our experience. Ver. 10, 11 Striking Forces. Vers. 13-22.
The forces arrayed against us in the conflict are not to be compared with the facilities in our favour. Ver. 13. In addition we have been made partakers of the Body of Christ. Ver. 17.
This is a demonstration of a great principle. To eat of a sacrifice makes manifest that a person is identified with the Altar from which the sacrifice came. These things expose the diabolical nature of idolatry. but they also express the dignified character of the Christ- ian's identity and communion.
Sterling Fidelity. Vers. 23-33.
The genuineness of true submission to spirit- ual control is clearly expressed in the endeav- our to promote the advantages of others, ver. 24. also in maintaining a consciousness of the Lord's claims in all things. The great goal is to be "the glory of God" everywhere and at all times. Ver. 31.
This chapter has a very special application in preparing for the holy ordinance of com- munion. The Holy Spirit was dishonoured by Israel. Vers. 5-7, see also Isa. 63, ver. 10. As those who are wedded to God by the Spirit; Christians are not to be wedded to the world because its fashion passes away. Nor are they to be wedded to the flesh because its frames bring the Spirit into subjection. Nor are they to be wedded to idols because their fellowship is with demons.
Moreover because nothing is in itself essen- tially holy or unholy, it does not follow that nothing is sacramental. So far as idolatry is concerned its associations defile and corrupt, whereas the associations of the Lord's supper sanctify and elevate. We are not therefore to treat idolatrous feasts indifferently, nor regard the Lord's supper as a commonality. These are the two errors against which we are to guard ourselves. Temporal things as well as spiritual things are administered by the Spirit.
Like as in the individual body the human spirit rules and controls, so in the collective Body of Christ the Divine Spirit rules and controls.
THE SOLEMNITY OF COMMUNION. Ch. 11.
Having introduced the Creator and His claims in Chap. 10 we are now taken to a higher plane and Christ is declared to be the head of every man.
(a) Christ and Creation. Vers. 1 - 16. This section views Christ in His universal Headship not merely of the regenerate race but of all mankind. In Christ every spiritual blessing for man is centred. Man's position is likewise pictured in general and he is head of the woman not of the wife as in a restricted sphere. Angels who were present at the Crea- tion, and who are therefore witnesses of Christ's headship, are observers of our activi- ties and look to see whether we recognise God's order in creation and act in acknow- ledgment of His governmental laws. Ver. 10. Man disregards God's government if he prays with his head covered, woman shows similar disregard if she uncovers her head by being shorn. Paul states these matters as being the facts of the case and disclaims all association with contention.
(b) Christ and Communion. Vers. 17-34. Following Headship in Creation is Christ's Lordship in redemption. The title 'Lord' is used eight times and lends added authority to the unifying Feast of Thanksgiving.
The Lord's Supper was instituted as (a) The Pledge of a permanent Society.
(b) The Prophecy of a prospective King- dom.
(c) The Proof of a present Union.
(d) The Proclamation of a past Victory.
In commemorating His dying love these memorials show His majesty and mercy; they are emblems of Empire and emancipation; they are tokens of His triumph and tenderness; they are symbols of His sufficiency and Sacri- fice and constitute the pledge of His presence and provision.
We may well contrast all other leaders with Christ, e.g., Moses and the Rabbis - Socrates and the philosopher - Caesar and the Emper- ors, and then realise how unlike He is to all. Yet He established law, unveiled truth and founded a Kingdom.
He is at once the embodiment of all the teaching of scripture, the exponent of all wis- dom and the expression of all promise.
(2) SPIRITUAL FORCES. Ch. 12-14.
The subject of the Spirit leaps into larger realms of glory as we approach this division. The full spiritual equipment is disclosed in Ch. 12, when the Divine Spirit controls the body of Christ.
The fair spirit of love in man is expressed in Ch. 13. when the Divine Spirit is ruling. The forceful teaching of the Spirit constraining us to covet service and gifts is the substance of Ch. 14.
THE SPIRITUALITY OF GIFTS Ch. 12.
A very distinctive word opens the chapter 'Pneumatikos', the only word in the New Testa- ment that contains the five vowels. Every spiritual grace and all effective activity depend on the Spirit. Through Him we obtain divine life, the knowledge of God and the conscious- ness of God. He promotes unselfishness, self- sacrifice, spontaneous activity, likeness to God - and also commands divine power.
Apart from Him there can be no altar flame, no lampstand-light, no incense-fragrance and no Shekinah glory. The unison of the activity of Godhead in verses 1 - 11 seeks expression in the unity of the one body. Vers. 12-31. The Spirit Deifies Christ, ver. 3. distributes gifts, vers. 7-10 and directs operations. ver. 11. The variety and unity of the body, ver. 14. forbids envy and jealousy. vers. 15-17. The authority for the body is God, ver. 18; the interdependence of the members is for mutual sympathy, ver. 21, 26 and all gifts are bestow- ed to promote the well-being of the whole. Vers. 28-30.
The Holy Spirit is called by, or described under, sixteen names in the New Testament, and it is only by viewing the whole of these that we obtain an adequate apprehension of His infinite resources.
THE SUBLIMITY OF LOVE Ch. 13.
Until now Paul insists on the claims of Christ, but at this point he begins to inspire. Hitherto there had been the marshal blast of the bugle, now begins the sweet music of love's appeal to love. As a 'Knight of the Cross' he had challenged any rival that sought to hold sway in love's rightful citadel.
Now he is content to disclose love's char- acter and allow all who will to judge for them- selves. The echoes of the contention in chap- ters 1-12 have barely died away, the heat of battle has scarcely cooled, but Paul ceases to drive and begins to draw, he replaces attack with appeal and by laying aside his warrior coat-of-mail he begins to woo and win by the irresistible power of love.
The transition is lucidly clear, the apostle now sings the praise of a perfect character com- plete in Love and radiant in Virtue, and des- cribes the features by which that genuine love may be identified. Included in the portraiture are finger-prints of sympathy, footprints of fidelity, heart-throbs of pity and high thoughts of loyalty. The noble character is unblem- ihed, untarnished and unexampled. There are given sixteen of these definite marks which fully manifest love and they are truly the marks of the Master.
They are also designed to be displayed in His Body, the Church, so that in her function she will fulfil the divine calling and bear about in the body the marks of the Lord Jesus.
Paul was anxious that the Church should turn her thoughts from Corinth with its lust, to Calvary with its love.
Let us continue to bear in mind where we began. Christ IS made unto us Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification and Redemption. Ch. 1:32.
The vision has become clearer. Wlsdom is Love manifesting the Truth. Righteousness is Love mastering the Tempter. Sanctification is Love maintaining the Trust. Redemption is Love ministering the Triumph.
The wind may blow from four directions; the Stormy East, the balmy North, the ruddy West and the chilly South, but God is love whichever way the wind blows. Therefore Love beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things and endureth all things. Verse 7.
(a) The Capabilities that are endowed by love, vers. 1-3. Capabilities are here reduced to five general types, the orator, the scholar, the pioneer, the philosopher and the ascetic. The Corinthians came behind in no gift, Ch. 1, ver. 7, but all that glitters is not gold. Pyrites have a more brilliant metallic lustre than gold but when burned in large quantities they make sulphuric acid. Brilliant lights (as well as blackouts) have their dangers.
A field aflame with red poppies looks won- derful, but is not as wholesome as a field of wheat. Gifts may lack grace. Unshaded bril- liance is harmful. Paul denies that the gift of tongues is the essential credential of spiritual endowment. Ch. 12: Ver. 30.
The most common danger is to become satisfied with less than the best.
The Orator may be popular yet deficient.
Dazzling brilliance in rhetoric and charming eloquence can be very inconsiderate and these apart from love profit nothing.
The exercise of such a gift may be noise at its worst and spiritual selfishness at its best. Tennyson records the words spoken by Maud by her old playmate, 'She was Dead perfec- tion.'
The Scholar may be philosophic but incom- plete, understanding all mysteries but misun- derstanding men. Love is a known language in every clime among the learned and un- learned.
Christ did not say to Peter, 'Thinkest thou accurately?' or 'Speakest thou correctly ' but, 'Lovest thou Me?' Even the Alexandrian uni- versity polish of Apollos was defective. Acts 18.25:26.
The Pioneer may be persevering yet lack- ing. To blaze a trail through untrodden ter- ritory needs venture and determination.
Some have gone so far as to overcome the difficulty of strange language barriers and sur- mounted the dangers of tropical climates with- out having a heart pulsating with the presence of God. Paul breaks in upon all self-com- placency with love's lambent challenge.
The Benefactor may be philanthropic but imperfect. The rich young ruler had kept the commands from his youth up, but he was lack- ing in sympathy and submission. Christ said to him, 'If thou wouldst be perfect,' 'Go sell,' 'Come follow.'
Dessiman renders verse three as follows, 'If I share out all my goods, morsel by morsel, and have not love it profiteth me nothing.' Here is one who exceeded Zachaeus by fifty per- cent, but without any credit for so doing.
The Ascetic may be principled yet unprofit- ed. The devotion and sacrifice may be for outward show to gain fame. With his own hands Saraman-Karla the Indian Fakir had built a pyre in one of the streets of Athens, and setting it on fire burned himself to death. This greatly impressed the Roman world and in Paul's day the monument was still standing with the inscription: "Here lies Saraman-Karla who made himself immortal." Extreme self- sacrifice may lack the element of all true sacri- fice which is love. Enthusiasts may be quite willing to die, instead of living to testfy. So then it is possible for ecstatic tongues to be no more than eloquent echoes. Endowed minds may endanger trust and reliance. Effec- tive organisers may embitter the cause. En- thusiastic philanthropists may engender pride. Extreme asceticism may express a personal am- bition for praise. He who loves, lives. 'We love Him because He first loved us.'
(b) The Control exercised by love, vers. 4-6. 'I' is used eight times in the first four verses of set purpose; see Ch. 4, ver. 6. We are now introduced to eight things love never does and they are equal in triumph to the deeds of love. This is not sensationalism, or sentimentality, but perfect love. Learn to love, practise it for improvement.
These are the sins I fain would have thee
Malice and cold disdain, hot anger, sullen
Scorn of the lowly, envy of the great:
And discontent, that casts a shadow grey
On all the brightness of the common way.
Henry Van Dyke.
(c) The Character Exhibited by love, ver. 7. The reloicing of love is restrained, but it is steadfast and refuses to be depressed, while at the same time any attempt on the part of disloyalty to intrude meets an impregnable fortress. Love looks four ways and prevails. Love lends to life radiant vision, buoyant op- timism, fervent emotion and abundant energy. Love bears all that can be borne, believes all that is believable, hopes all that is hopeful and endures all that can be endured.
(d) The Constancy Expressed by Love. Vers. 8-10. We might best interpret this portion by giv- ing a few translations of the first statement, "Love never faileth."
"Love's flower petals never fall." Dr. Way.
"Love is proof against all things." Canon Evans.
"Love has a gracious tolerance." Dean Farrar.
"Love knows how to be silent." Weymoutli.
"Love covereth all things." R.V.
"Love is always slow to expose." Moffatt.
"Love guards her trusts."
"Love is reliable in emergencies."
"Love is not pleased when others go wrong."
'Love is always constant."
These ten suffice in some measure to show the superiority of love in every circumstance through all the years.
(e) The Consistency evinced by Love, ver. 11.
Love is consistent but not with a hard and fast absolutism. Love can exchange the toys of childhood for the tools of manhood and remain true to her character.
The Major in command of the 97th regi- ment at the Crimean War wrote to Lady Raleigh concerning Captain Headley Vicarsi: "Whilst he entered with all his heart into the interests and duties of a Soldier, His lips and life held an unchanging story of the Love of Christ." March 1855.
(f) The Continuity Enioyed by Love, Ver. 12, 13.
After the Chicago fire three words remained discernible on the remains of a charred page of a burnt Bible, "God is Love." 'Now abideth faith, hope. Love,' all three abide eternally. Love forever and you will live forever.
These Corinthians who were vaunting them- selves when Paul wrote took to heart this in- spiring message of Love. Forty years after, Clement was able to address them from Rome and say, "Ye were all humble-minded, not boasting about anything, willing rather to be subject than to govern." The Romans under the later Emperors demanded 'Panem et cir- censes, bread and theatres for contentment. Christianity supplied bread and contentment. The Romans also held that no Faith was worth dying for, but the Christians did die and were looked upon as marvels. What was more, they stirred the admiration which was dangerous because it tempts to imitation. Of all that the Chapter teaches this is the sum, the highest aspirations, the noblest deeds, the keenest sac- rifices and the holiest desires must be brought into relation with Christ and His love.
THE SECRETS OF MINISTRY. Ch. 14.
ln view of the adequacy of the Spiritual gifts and the grace of love, we should not only be constrained to serve but made competent to serve effectively. Inconsiderateness and in- dividualism are the two worst forms of spiritual abnormalities. The main feature of divine love is its remarkable thoughtfulness for others. We should deprecate the drift toward deterio- ration; sanity and spirituality go together. If we display speech as an accomplishment and not as a factor in seeking and serving God, tongues are of no value. We may carry out the principles laid down in this section most punctiliously and in such a manner as to wound the susceptibilities of others. The principles are intended to guide not govern, therefore the exercise of the Spiritual gifts is not mentioned until the character of the control is clearly dis- closed. 'Let all things be done in love,' Ch. 16, vers. 14.
(3) SPIRITUAL FACTORS.
The whole body of teaching given in the earlier chapters lacks destiny unless the power of death be defeated and destroyed, so we are now to be introduced to the most sensa- tional event in the history of redemption, namely, the triumphant resurrection of Christ,
THE STABILITY OF FAITH. Ch. 15.
(a) The Message of the Resurrection-its origin, Ver. 1-11.
"Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures - He was buried - He rose again the third day according to the scriptures -
- He was seen - He was seen -He was seen
- He was seen.
There are 23 references to this great fact in the one chapter. Resurrection interprets Christ's death, guarantees His present ministry and predicts His return to destroy the last enemy. We may speak of it as being the seal of authority to the gospel, the proof that the claims He made are genuine, the witness that He does justify the guilty and the pledge that the redeemed are destined for Glory.
(b) The Ministry of the Resurrection-its obligations. Vers. 1 2-18.
The declaration of the Resurrection is our brightest assurance, to discredit it is the black- est possible assumption. If Christ be not risen the first consequence is - Vain preaching, ver. 14. devoid of all reality, just philosophical phantasy and sceptical speculation. This would simply mean there is no Cross of Christ, no Choice of God and no Call of the Spirit. The same Lord, the same God and the same Spirit bestowing gifts for the one body would be all imaginary. What then? Why, even the car- dinal virtues of faith, hope and love would amount to no more than a poet's dream!
Morgan and Muller, Wesley and Whitfield Spurgeon and Savanarola, Bunyan and Bee- cher, Moody and Moorehouse, Pierson and Parker, Carey and Carroll and a millon others, was all that they preached vain? Suppose there were no genuine edict of emancipation in U.S.A., what then?
Virtueless faith, vers. 14, 17. Is faith all a delusion? What of its anchor now? How shall we interpret its chivalry and courage? Where is the music of its song in the night? How came all the past endurance in trial? Whence came the washing of those who were wallowing in the corruption of Corinth? Where- in is there any value to the Passover and the Smitten Rock and the Firstfruits? Could it be possible that all these emanated from a fever- ed hallucination?
Vague Witness, ver. 15.
Is everyone in the list of Hebrews chapter eleven, devoid of honour? Were Christ and His disciples myths, the Church a fanciful mist and Pentecost a misrepresentation? Paul thought very highly of honour. Tomb-breakers are not usually truth-bringers and 'vandals do not naturally becoma evangels.' Could Paul himself have endured hardship so long if on the wrong track?
Vanished Pardon, ver. 17.
This is the worst thrust of all, leaving the craving for release unmet, the crushing burden unremoved, the conscience torment unmiti- gated, the call of freedom unreal and the cancelling of sin untrue!
Vanished Hope, ver. 18.
Does it mean an eternal winter, an endless night and an everlasting severance? Is there no radiant prospect of a Kingdom? No home eternal, beautiful and bright, no last Adam, no last trump, no last enemy destroyed? Why, all this assumption is contrary to evidence, to history, to experience, to reason and to in- stinct! But now IS Christ RISEN from the dead, ver. 20.
(c) The Majesty of the Resurrection - its order, vers. 20-49,
Verses 20 to 25 stand alone in Scripture for their unsurpassed sublimity in the space of less than one hundred and fifty words, the whole history of the Redemption is compacted in seven stages. One hundred and thirty-two words are used in the Greek with a twelve-fold use of 'All.'
Condemnation. Death of the race in Adam placing the fall at the starting poiont of history, vers. 21, 22.
Resurrection. The last Adam is raised for Christ is the firstfruits, ver. 23.
Manifestation, 'Afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.' Ver. 23.
Consummation. Then cometh the end, which is the end of ends.
Coronation, 'For He must reign and will sub- due all other power.' Vers. 24, 25.
Subjugation. All foes and enemies are to be subordinated. Vers. 26-27.
Unification. God filling all relations in all creations and orders, ver. 28.
Therefore, 'In the beginning' God is Aleph; 'In the End' God is Omega.
Thee Mystery of History is accomplished, for by this all is explained. The philosophy of it is a re-creation with all things new. The Im- age-likeness and Dominion of Gen. 1, ver. 26, that were lost in the fall are here restored. Christ became prophet, priest and king in order to regain these and reinstate God in man. This incorporates the complete story of the ages.
The Mystery of Kingdoms. Four are men- tioned, - the Church Kingdom, the World Kingdom, the Devil's Kingdom and the King- dom of Death. Each has a rule and this rule and authority will be put down. Satan brought sin and sin brought death, in this same order they are to be abolished and there will be no more death.
The mystery of destiny and the mystery of duty follow, of which we cannot speak in detail.
(d) The Mystery of the Resurrection - its occasion. Vers. 45-58.
The scripture-teaching on the two Adams should be carefully studied. Compare Gen- esis Ch. 1-3, II. Sam, Ch. 7, Psa. 8, Isa. Ch. 53, Rom. Ch. 5, 1 Cor. Ch. 15, and Heb Ch. 2, These are the principal passages and they pre- sent Christ as Head and Representative of the race. He is the second Man and the Last Adam. Our present province is to subdue self in ourselves and others. "Of Him and through Him and to Him are all things."
The section is a lesson on personal expecta- tion in awaiting the image of the heavenly and a lesson of persistent work is also added. Centre your confidence in the resurrection doctrine and never move from it. Be as a giant oak that has a good grip of the ground and which stands the test of the storm.
(4) SPIRITUAL FEATURES.
The remarkable teaching of the believer be- ing joined to the Lord and becoming one Spirit is not only maintained to the end, but each member of the body is consequently sus- tained by the Spirit of the Lord.
The Support of Evangelism. Ch. 16.
The Spirit's authority administers not only at the centre but to the very circumference of all activities. The genuineness of Christian grace is expressed in giving whereby doctrine is to be translated into practice.
Those justified in Romans, Chs. 1-11, are to be practical, see Chs. 12-16. Heavenly blessings in Eph. Chs. 1-3 are to benefit be- lievers in earthly places and practices, chs, 4-6. Let us beware of theoretical, philosophical and impractical religion. We might divide the closing chapter under, 'Rules for Christian res- ponsibility.'
Contributing to the Work, Vers. 1-9,
(a) A rule for dedicatory giving. Vers. 1-4. 'The lay by' system, ver. 2 see R.V. Giving is to be regular, systematic and proportionate. We owe a great debt of gratitude. Rom. 15:27, Two whole chapters in the second epistle are devoted to this subject.
(b) A rule for directed service. Vers. 5-9. I will tarry because of the great door and effectual opened - with many adversaries. Vers. 8, 9. Christ holds both the preroga- tive to open doors or close them, His servants must wait for His orders. Dr. Livingstone and William Carey did so, likewise the C.M.S. in Uganda. Saul did not view concerted opposi- tion as a cause for withdrawing his effort but for redoubling it.
Considering the Worker. Vers. 10-12. (c) A rule for deportment toward the ministry, Vers. 10-11.
One of the common sins at Corinth was par- tiality toward the individual. Favourites were lauded, others were greatly admired, while some were called in question. One group com- mended Paul's zeal, another section eulogised Apollos's eloquence, yet another party pre- ferred Peter as a High Churchman. Timothy's youthfulness was despised, while Paul's pro- found doctrines were a subject of great inter- est. All this was like picking and choosing vessels and losing the water of life.
Consolidating the Witness. Vers. 13-14. (d) A rule for dignified conduct. Ver. 13. 'Watch ye' a grand rule for young men. What troubles we get into by going to sleep in the meadows! 'Stand fast,' especially in the stronghold of faith having the heart fixed and the mind set toward earnest endeavour founded on prin- ciple. Be like Shammah. II. Sam. 23, 11, 12. 'Play the Man,' like Paul on board ship after two weeks of dreadful storm and sea sickness. Acts 27:21-36.
'Be Strong'. This is no empty command, for God has provided strong meat to make it possible. He calls to the environment of prayer for bracing air to assure health of soul. Notice the same word in Eph. 3. 16. 'Strength- ened with might.'
(e) A rule for doing and living. Ver. 14. In the light of love's perfect portrait in Chap. 13 let your life be lived and your labour be wrought 'in love.' This is really the key-note of the whole Epistle and teaches us how to apply the principles.
Cheering the Weary. Vers. 15-24.
(f) A rule for devoted friendships. Vers. 15-22. Hospitality and help, together with humil- ity and holiness, are to feature prominently in the Christian Circle with Love arbitrating at all times. Ver. 22-24. The climax of all truth is in the practical application that is made to the believer. All holy living and holy serving depend absolutely on the work of the Holy Spirit. The richest measure of experience in these things depends on our knowledge and comprehension of the vital union into which the Spirit has Called us and which rests on the Cross of Christ and has been ratified by the Choice of God.
The night has a thousand eyes,
And the day but one,
And the light of the whole world dies
With the setting sun.
The mind has a thousand eyes,
And the heart but one.
And the light of the whole life dies
When love is done.