1 Corinthians 1:1-2:16 (ESV)
1:1 Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes,
2 To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
4 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, 5 that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— 6 even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— 7 so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
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. 11 For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. 12 What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name.16 (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” 20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
2:1 And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
6 Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. 7 But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”—10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.
14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
Day 1: Loving God
Read: 1 Corinthians 1:18-31
The Greeks seek wisdom: “If you fit my system, philosophy, and values, then I will believe in God.” The Jews demand signs: “If God would prove himself to me by some incontrovertible miracle or by answering my demands (e.g. heal my child, make me rich or well-respected, etc.), then I will believe in him.” The problem with both approaches is that they domesticate God and put man in the driver seat. But God, in His sovereignty and wisdom, has chosen to save only by one means, “Christ crucified.” Hence, Christians strange cherish and proclaim the cross, which is the ancient equivalent of the executioner’s chair. Only those who entrust themselves entirely to the “folly” of Christ crucified will be saved. In this way, the gospel of Jesus Christ puts to shame the wisdom and power of this world. What are some things in your life that you are tempted to boast in other than “Christ crucified”? Do you boast in your intellect, competence, ethical or spiritual performance, etc.?
- Repent of the ways in which you assert your independence and seek to make God fit your expectations and paradigms.
- Renounce all your worldly boastings and revel in the grace and peace that are freely yours in Jesus Christ. Give thanks to God for His faithfulness to you over the past year.
- Make note of specific ways in which you would like to grow in your relationship with, and submission to, God over the next year. Pray for these things.
Day 2: Loving One Another
Read: 1 Corinthians 1:1-17
Paul addresses the Corinthian believers as “the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours.” Nowhere else in all his letters, except for his two letters to the Corinthians, does Paul address the recipients as “the church of God.” With this phrasing, Paul addresses one of their chief problems, namely spiritual pride. They don’t belong to some special class of Christians distinct from the rest of the churches. No, like the rest of them, they belong to God. They are the church of God. Do we recognize that we are a church that belongs to God and to no one else?
And the church belongs to God through Christ. For this reason, “Christ” is mentioned no less than 12 times in the span of mere 17 verses. Paul’s theology is Christ-centered because all of the spiritual blessings that we receive from God the Father are mediated through Jesus Christ. Every grace that reaches us comes through Jesus Christ! The Holy Spirit, our Comforter and Advocate, would not indwell us apart from Christ. The Church of God, and our sweet and intimate fellowship, would not exist apart from Christ. For this reason, the only way to preserve and promote humility and unity in the church is to be a Christ-centered church.
- Pray that our church would grow even more Christ-centered throughout year 2018, and that we would be characterized by deeper humility and stronger unity as a result.
- Pray that our church, and especially the leaders, would serve with the recognition that we together belong to God, with a proper sense of stewardship and not ownership.
- Pray that we would grow in our understanding that we are “called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”—that we are not called to be saints in isolation, but in community and partnership. Pray that our regular attendees would commit to being members, and that our members would grow in deeper relationship with each other.
Day 3: Sharing the Love of Christ with Others
Read: 1 Corinthians 2:1-16
Paul resolved to preach not with “plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (vv. 4-5). Faith that rests in the wisdom of men will fail, only faith that rests in the power of God will persevere. For this reason, only the Spirit of God can reveal “Christ crucified” in a way that brings proper understanding and application of God’s salvation (vv. 10-12).
- Pray for the “natural persons” in your life who do not accept the things of the Spirit of God but instead dismiss them as folly. Pray that the Spirit of God would reveal Christ to them and illuminate the eyes of their hearts.
- Pray that God would make us bold and winsome witnesses among our friends and neighbors.
- Pray for more conversions and baptisms in our church in 2018.