Monday Night Bible Study in West Des Moines:
The Message: A Matter of Power, not Talk
When Paul wrote the Corinthians in the letter we call First Corinthians he addressed a group within the church that had adulterated the message of Christ. Due to this now corrupt message, many people had been left powerless in their Christian lives to combat the world, the flesh and the devil.
When Paul first came to Corinth they received the message of the gospel. Paul remembers the result his original message had in their lives when he says: “You have been enriched in every way—in all your speaking and in all you knowledge—because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you”. (1 Cor. 1:5) Paul makes it clear that his message (“our testimony”) had demonstrate its power to change the way they thought and the way they spoke. He says they had been “enriched” which means “to make rich.” His message was not limited to words that made up thoughts or concepts that could be the source of a religious or philosophical debate. His words had actually “enriched” them so that their thinking and actions had changed. Paul says this change confirmed they had received the message and its power. (Note: Rm.1:16) Since Paul left, the Corinthians had changed the gospel message. It had now become no more than thoughts and concepts that were being debated and producing division, but not power. Paul criticizes these teachers and their teaching in chapters 2-4. He ends chapter 4 in dynamic fashion by telling “these arrogant people” that he is coming to them not only tohear their thoughts and concepts but more, to see their power. Then he says, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.”
Paul begins to mock the Corinthian preachers by pointing out the power shortage of their message in regard to sexual sins (ch.5). He reveals his knowledge of a particular sexual sin that has manifested in the church that even the unsaved world would think is horrid. Next , he shames them by ridiculing their lack of wisdom to deal with a dispute between church members (ch.6). Remember, their teachers were claiming that their message had superior wisdom to Paul’s message. Paul’s point is that even with this claimed superior teaching “there is nobody among you wise enough to judge” trivial matters. The list of sins the Corinthian’s message fails to restrain is extensive in 6:9,10.
The message we are to share and continue to study is the power of God needed to transform our thoughts and change our lives.