Thursday, July 19, 2018

2018.07.19 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1Corinthians 4:14-21

Questions for Littles: For what reason did Paul not write (v14a)? What does he call the Corinthians? Why did he write? What might they have ten thousand of (v15)? But what do they not have many of? In whom did Paul father (beget) them, and through what? What does he urge them to do in v16? Whom has he sent to them (v17a)? What does he call Timothy? What will Timothy do, to help them to imitate Paul? How are some acting (v18a)? What is this puffed up action failing to take into account (v18b)? What will Paul not know, when he comes (v19)? What will he know instead? What else is not in word but in power (v20)? Who has the choice of the manner in which Paul comes (v21)? What two options do they have for how Paul comes?
In this week’s Epistle reading, Paul invites the Corinthians to turn away from being puffed up and impressed with themselves, and instead to turn to imitating him in living by faith and responding with love even to his enemies.

The “imitate me” in v16 is directly tied to the character of personal godliness described in vv12-13. It seems like a lot of pressure to put on Timothy. Paul is saying, “here’s a son in the faith who is bearing the family resemblance… I’m sending him to you so that you can be reminded by a live example that the gospel has power to transform a man… I’m going to give you not just these words but Timothy as a demonstration of power.”

Of course, one of the main points here is that Timothy himself is not puffed up, but looking always outside of himself and to the Lord alone for spiritual life and strength.

This is something important for our elders to think about: am I looking to Christ to work in me, so that the flock entrusted to my ministry will see real spiritual transformation—a demonstration of the power of Jesus?

It may be even more important for parents to think about. If we have seemingly good words with our children, but they don’t see a sinner saved by grace and living in integrity by that same grace, then we will misrepresent the kingdom of God to them. The kingdom is not in word but in power!

This is one of the reasons that church discipline is so important. While we are still sinners, the church is made up of redeemed, repentant sinners. We should be very different from the world!

Excusing ongoing unrepentant sin and a life lived carelessly for self instead of Christ is NOT a form of extending grace; that kind of worldly life with Christianese words is a living denial that grace actually works!

So, the Corinthians have a choice. Either their way of life comes into line with genuine repentance, or Paul will have no choice but to come “with a rod” when he comes to them. The apostle has a duty, and how they choose to live will either bind him to come with firm discipline or enable him to come with gentle affection.

If elders or parents do well, this is an example for them too. As much as they wish to extend gentle affection always, they have a responsibility before God that actually puts the congregant (or the child) in the place of choosing what kind of interaction they are about to have. God give us such faithful elders/parents, and God grant the repentance that enables the affection!
What sin do you tend to permit? What evidence is there of your repentance/growth in this area?
Suggested songs: ARP51A “God, Be Merciful to Me” or TPH466 “My Faith Looks Up to Thee”

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