1st Corinthians - Wayne Barber/Part 31 | John Ankerberg Show

1st Corinthians – Wayne Barber/Part 31

By: Dr. Wayne Barber
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By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©1998
What we are going to start seeing here in verse 6, to me, is very, very important. We are going to see a stark contrast between a conceited church and the humility of the apostles whom God had sent to them. The people whom God was using and the people who would not allow God to use them are going to stand out. It is as clear as a bell. We see the conceited Corinthian church and the humble apostles God had sent to them.

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1 Corinthians 4:6-8

Introduction

The apostle Paul is beginning to get a little bit more narrowed in the things that he says. He is really being direct. As a matter of fact, I want to entitle this study, “The Characteristics of a Conceited Church.” The church of Corinth was a conceited church.

Based on the fact that they thought they had it altogether and they were judging Paul against Apollos, against Cephas, he says in verse 5, “Therefore, do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.”

Paul says, “Now listen to me, it is God who judges; it is God who rewards. That is His role.” “Therefore,” he says, “do not go on passing judgment before the time.” Now, he is referring to the judgments again that they are passing upon Paul and Apollos.

People still do that today. They have their little standards that they judge a preacher by. Does he visit enough? Does he show compassion? What is his personality like? The Corinthians were doing that. The apostle Paul says, “You stop doing that. That is not your role. This is God’s role.”

As a matter of fact, the time there is defined by the next phrase. He says, “Therefore, do not go on passing judgment before the time [what time? keep reading], but wait until the Lord comes.” You see, it is only the judgment of God that counts. It is only the judgment of God that is valid. He says, “Whatever you are coming up with to put me over here against Apollos and both of us against Cephas, you stop doing that because only God is the one worthy to judge, and He is coming to do that. So you back off.”

In verse 13 we have seen this judgment, haven’t we? Go back up to verse 13 of chapter 3. This is the judgment we have already looked at. He reminds them of this. He says, “Each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it [now that is the time, the day when Jesus comes], because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test [not the quantity, but] the quality of each man’s work.”

So, with this in mind, Paul goes on, “Therefore, do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes.” Now look at what He will do when He comes: “Who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts.” You see, God and God alone knows the motives of men’s hearts. We found that out back in chapter 2. No man knows the thoughts of a man, certainly the motives of a man, except the man himself.

The word there for “motives” is the word boule. It has the idea of the counsel of a man’s heart, something that he sat down and reflected upon that determined his purpose and his motivation and his agenda. Why does he do what he does? Only God knows that. Paul says, “You don’t know that, therefore, back off. When God comes, all of these things will be revealed.”

The word for “bring light to” is photizo. It means to turn the light on. One of these days He will come and He will turn the light on. Don’t worry, God will take care of that. The word for “disclose” is the word phaneroo. In other words, He will manifest them at one time. How will they be manifested? Hey, you can tell by what is left, whether it is wood, hay and stubble, if it is going to burn or the precious stones that are going to be left. There won’t be any question about the motivation of a man’s heart one day when he stands before God. It will be at this time that the rewards will be given.

A called preacher of God’s word wants God’s approval and those rewards. He doesn’t want just the acclamation of men. That is not what he is looking for. So he says in the verse, “Therefore, do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.” Each man’s praise will come to him from God. Now that is what we all want. That is what a preacher wants who is called of God. Therefore, back away from this judging the motives of a preacher’s heart. Stop saying, I am of Paul, I am of Apollos, I am of Cephas. Stop excluding oneself. Stop thinking you have the standard and nobody else has it.

I am serious. If you will look carefully at what he is doing, the bottom line is, who in the world do you think you are to judge the motives of God’s called preachers of His word? Well, the Corinthian church was rather conceited, rather arrogant. They thought they had the standard. As a matter of fact, that has been their problem all along, babies who wouldn’t grow up in the nursery.

What we are going to start seeing here in verse 6, to me, is very, very important. We are going to see a stark contrast between a conceited church and the humility of the apostles whom God had sent to them. The people whom God was using and the people who would not allow God to use them are going to stand out. It is as clear as a bell. We see the conceited Corinthian church and the humble apostles God had sent to them.

We are only going to look at the conceited church of Corinth right now, but I want to go ahead and introduce it to you. The word “humility” is never used, but it is implied in everything that you can see. The Corinthians walked away from the Word of God. They wouldn’t grow in the Word of God. They came up with their own standards. The apostles, on the other hand, never even thought of themselves as worth anything. They knew they were only vessels. They knew the sin in their life. They knew everything about themselves that was not apart from God. They lived in that humility, that proper estimate of themselves in light of who God is.

If you will think about it for a second, everybody God has ever used is characterized not by conceit but by humility. I want to remind you of some people God has used down through the Scriptures. When Abraham was interceding on behalf of Sodom, he said in Genesis 18:27, “And Abraham answered and said ‘Now behold, I have ventured to speak to the Lord although I am but dust and ashes.’” Jacob, when he was afraid that Esau was going to attack him prayed in Genesis 32:10, “I am unworthy of all the lovingkindness and of all the faithfulness which Thou hast shown to Thy servant.” When God commanded Moses to go before Pharaoh and demand the release of the Israelites, Moses said in Exodus 3:11, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?” When John the Baptist could not conceive of baptizing Christ, he said, “I have need to be baptized by You and do You come to me?” And John, in his gospel, records a record of the words of John the Baptist when he said, “I baptize in water but among you stands one whom you do not know. It is He who comes after me, the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” Peter, when seeing the miracle of the great catch of fish on the Sea of Galilee and realizing that he was in the presence of God, made this statement in Luke 5:8, “Depart from me for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” The apostle Paul was no exception. It says in Acts 20:19 of Paul that he served the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials which came upon him through the plots of the Jews. In 2 Corinthians 3:5 Paul says, “Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, for our adequacy is from God.” And in Ephesians 3:8 Paul said, “To me the very least of all saints this grace was given to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ.”

Whenever you find a person who is being used as a vessel for God, you are going to find a marked characteristic of humility. But every time you find somebody who is unwilling to grow up, unwilling to get up under the authority of God’s Word and even though they go through the motions day by day, you are going to find conceit and arrogance and they are going to stand in a stark contrast to one another. All this humility of Paul and Apollos and Cephas that was mentioned back in verse 12 of chapter 1 and then followed through the three chapters that we have studied, all of that humility now is going to stand up against the stark conceit and arrogance of the Corinthian church. They are again babies who wouldn’t grow up. They wouldn’t come out of the nursery. They had their own standards. They had arrived. They needed no one.

A conceited church is indifferent to the Word of God

There are three characteristics of a conceited church. When you talk about the church, you are talking about individuals. So the same characteristics that apply to the church apply to an individual. These are the characteristics of a conceited church or a conceited individual. Paul minces no words and drives his point home.

First of all, a conceited church is indifferent to the Word of God. Now isn’t that interesting? Following right on the heels of 4:14, now we are going to see people who are indifferent to the Word of God. In those verses Paul talked about preachers who preach the Word of God and love the Word of God and are stewards of it. Now he is talking about people who don’t want to hear it, who are indifferent to the Word of God.

In fact, those churches are many times found in America today. I pastored a church once where I had walk up to me and say, “Wayne, why do you talk about the Word all the time? It is 2,000 years old.” You think they don’t exist, folks? They exist everywhere. As we go through this think, about now how many Corinthian churches you have seen. In verse 6, the indifference to God’s Word comes out. “Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that in us you might learn not to exceed what is written [there you go right there] in order that no one of you might become arrogant in behalf of one against the other.”

Now when he refers to “these things,” that throws me a little bit. I think he is talking about verses 15, particularly verses 14 of chapter 4. However, notice back in 1:12 he says, “Each one of you is saying, ‘I am of Paul,’ and ‘I of Apollos,’ and ‘I of Cephas,’ and ‘I of Christ.’” That is the tough group. Then he drops off the last two and picks up on Apollos and Paul and follows that the rest of the way. So it could be that you could go back to when he does that and pick up the traits that he is trying to speak of here.

But to me, to stick right in the text, he is speaking of those characteristics of the God called preachers he talked about in verses 14. He says, “Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively applied to myself and Apollos.” That word “I have figuratively applied” caught my attention. Now sometimes when I am studying a word will grab me and I will start explaining it and you will lose the whole track of where I am going. I don’t want that to happen. However, you need to know this word. It is a good word. It is the word metaschematizo. It comes from the word meta, denoting change of place or condition, and the word schematizo, which is from schema, meaning shape or form.

Now, what is he saying here? Something that changes the outward form of something; not the inward, but the outward. The apostle Paul says, “I am just changing forms. I am not changing the meaning, nothing inward changes. I am just changing the forms. I gave you the example in 4:14. Now that applies to myself and Apollos. I have figuratively applied it to us.”

There is a reason that he is doing that. There is another word that means to be changed from within. That is metamorphoo, from which we get the word “metamorphosis.” Now, do you know which word is used when you die and go through that transition of death and one day get a glorified body? Which word would you think would be used? It is not the word metamorphoo. It is this word right here. There is only going to be an outward change. It is just going to be a transition from here to there because we are being changed inwardly constantly, aren’t we? From glory to glory, from faith to faith. It is really a sweet thought. Maybe I am the only one who thinks it is, but when I was studying that really hit me, that when you die it is just a transition, and the only thing that changes is the outside. He has already come to live inside of us. He has already transformed me inside. He is just simply going to transition me. So today I am being conformed more and more to the image of Christ and one day I will get the body to go along with it and we will just go right on together. It shouldn’t be that big a drastic thing. That just blessed me.

Well, Paul is saying that he and Apollos were given to the church that there might be a pattern to follow. Now remember who Paul was. He was the first pastor of the church. Remember who Apollos was. He was the second pastor of the church. He says, “I zeroed in on me and Apollos because I think there is a pattern here that you need to follow. There is something about us that you need to learn. What is that?” “Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that in us you might learn [now watch] not to exceed what is written.” Now what in the world is he talking about? Alright, let me see if I can help you.

You see, God’s written Word tells us to appreciate God’s called preachers. In fact, it gives us the boundaries within which we can appreciate them. But you cannot go and exceed what is written. Let me just show you that. Look over in 1 Thessalonians 5:12. We are to appreciate and encourage and regard the people who preach and teach the Word of God, whoever they may be. They are servants of Christ. They serve His Word. They are stewards of His mysteries. The mystery is His Word, and we are to regard them.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:12 look at what he says. He says, “But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction.” He says, “We request that you appreciate these people.” So there is a proper esteeming of someone who teaches the Word of God and it is within the guidelines of scripture.

Look over in 1 Timothy 5:17. I love this verse; you will see why in a minute. Again within the guidelines of scripture we are to appreciate those who teach the Word of God. First Timothy 5:17 reads, “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor [I like that], especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching.” Now that is within the bounds of scripture. Take care of them, encourage them, appreciate them. There is a regard that is biblical and scriptural for people who teach the Word of God. However, glory always goes to God. It never goes to man. You don’t exalt the man. You appreciate the man, and the scripture gives you the guideline. But when you start exalting the man, you have exceeded that which is written and this is never allowed.

So Paul says, “Hey, to help you understand, I have taken Apollos and myself. We are the example so that you might learn with us not to exceed that which is written. The sin of exceeding that which is written is being indifferent to what God has to say. You see, they could have cared less. Paul is going to zero in on them and show them how conceited they have become. They don’t care what Paul is saying to them at this point, but what he is telling them is, “Listen, guys, as a result of your exceeding what is written, you have become arrogant in behalf of one against the other.”

Do you know what the word “arrogant” is? It is the word phusioo. It has the meaning of to puff up, to inflate, to blow up. When somebody is arrogant, he is just a big old gas bag. That is all he is, just a big bag of wind. That is what he says you have become. You have become people who are arrogant. You have puffed yourself up. You have an inflated view of yourself, and you have an inflated view of the people who have ministered to you, because you have attached yourself to them instead of attaching yourselves to Christ. Therefore, you have exceeded that which has been written.

You say, “I would never do that.” Now be real careful in what you just said. If you are going to stay within the bounds of scripture, you can appreciate godly people and realize they have been given to the church. But if you step outside the guidelines of scripture, you are going to forget what they say and attach yourself to the man. When you do that you have just sinned against God and become indifferent to what God’s Word has to say.

Now be real careful, you may have already slipped into this trap of being a man follower. You see, when you are of a person and you go and exceed the scriptural guidelines of appreciation of that person, certainly treating them with a matter of respect and honor, and you move to exalting that person, you have just taken upon yourself the Corinthian mark of being a conceited, arrogant bag of wind. That is what you are. You no longer are a person who loves the Word. You have become indifferent to the Word. You would rather hear the people who preach the Word. That is what was going on in Corinth.

The apostle Paul is nailing them. He said one of the first characteristics of a conceited people, an arrogant people, is that they are indifferent to the Word. That is shown by the fact that they don’t just appreciate the man. They go beyond and exalt the man and that is sin. That has exceeded that which is written.

A conceited church is ungrateful

The second sign of a conceited church is ungratefulness. It is specifically ungrateful for the people God has used to get them to where they are. Somebody told me a long time ago that humility is when you give credit to people who God has used to get you where you are. That is the bottom line. None of us are self made; we are Godmade, and God uses people in our lives. God had used Paul. God had used Apollos. But these people at Corinth were fighting over who was going to be of whom and never stopped to think of how grateful they should have been for the people God had given them to bring them to where they are.

It says in verse 7, “For who regards you as superior? And what do you have that you did not receive? But if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” Now, let’s walk through that for a second. He says, “For who regards you as superior?” That is a good question. Who put you in this class? Who put you as superior to other men? Why is it you have the right to judge preachers when others don’t? Why is it you have the right to act the way you are acting? You see, they have put themselves into a class all by themselves. It wasn’t a class that God had put them into. They had put themselves into it.

And he says, “And what do you have that you did not receive?” You know, that is an honest question, isn’t it? Let me ask you a question, now what do you have that you did not receive? “Well, I am a successful business man and I have put my time into it and I deserve it.” Now, wait a minute, you received the health that God gave you to show up at work every day to do what you did. You received the ability to think, which God gave to you, to make the decisions that you make. You see, everything we have that is substantial is something that we have received – our IQ, our personalities, our shape, our size, our parents.

But that is not what he is talking about here. The context is very narrow. The context has to do with spiritual things that you have received. The apostle Paul is asking them a question. “Why is it that you act so arrogant, as if you somehow don’t have to walk by faith, as if you can go around judging preachers by your own standards, as if you can live this way? What is it you have spiritually that you didn’t receive? You are acting as if you got it yourself and didn’t receive it.” Any believer with any honesty would have to say that all that he has that is meaningful in the Christian life has been received.

Look over in Ephesians 1:3. What a tremendous verse this is of what we have received from God. Why is it the Corinthians could not see this? You see, they had just chosen to be indifferent to the Word, and that reflected an ungrateful heart that they had. They didn’t realize they didn’t get there on their own. As a matter of fact, sometimes we forget what it was like to be lost. Who was it God used to get to you with the Word of God and the gospel? Just think back in your life.

I remember when I first came to Chattanooga, some of the doctrine I was preaching. Some of the stuff I said is completely off the wall. I did not know how to study the Word of God. In fact, I was using everybody else’s notes. If Stephen Olford or Adrian Rogers would have died, I would have had to quit the ministry because I was using their outlines. Now, I would change them. I would run them through the mill of my own life. I wouldn’t use their illustrations. I would put my own there, but that is all I knew. I preached topically.

Then one day I passed by a sign that said Reach Out. Now it is Precept Ministries. But I saw this sign for Reach Out Bible Study. I said, “What in the world is that?” My wife said, “Well, why don’t you drive up there and check it out?” You know, I am usually uninhibited in things. My wife really is more uninhibited in that than I am. She did. I didn’t. She got enrolled in a course over there and started taking the book of Judges. I remember looking over her shoulder and seeing the difference it was making in her life and thinking, “I am jealous. I want what you have.” I began to realize I didn’t know how to study the Word of God for myself. So I began to do the homework, and that is how I learned to study the word of God, right there doing the homework of Precept Ministry. Today I am where I am because of the people God put in my life. I can only say I received it. I didn’t even know I needed it.

Then one day I was struggling with my Greek. One day Brother Spiros Zodhiates came to church. I never will forget that. As he walked out, he said to me, “Preach the Word, Son, preach the Word.” I said, “Yes, sir.” I didn’t know who he was. Somebody walked up to me behind him and said, “Do you know who that was?” I said, “Who?” He said, “Dr. Spiros Zodhiates.” I said, “You mean, like in Pulpit Helps?” They said, “Yes.” I chased him down in the parking lot and apologized to him that I didn’t know who he was. He started coming to my church and through the graciousness of his heart, let me start coming over to his place and start doing his radio program with him. That lasted ten years. All those years and those times and those hours of just sitting in there. I still don’t think I know anything, but I have learned a few things just by being in the room.

God began to teach me more and more about how to interpret. My gift was application. So here I am 16 years later and somebody says, “Man, what did you do to get where you are?” I have to say, “I didn’t do anything. All I know is, I am just grateful to be where I am, and I have got to give credit where credit is due. That is the thing.” What do any of us have that we have not received? It is incredible how conceited and arrogant and bags of wind we can become when we step outside the reality that we don’t have anything unless God gave it to us. That is what he is asking them. That is the question. What do you have that you did not receive? They were proud, ungrateful. They boasted as if they had gotten this themselves.

Verse 7 goes on. It says, “For who regards you as superior? And what do you have that you did not receive? But if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” That word “boast” is kauchaomai. We have seen it before. It comes from the root word aucheo, neck. Why do you walk around with your neck stuck out like you have gotten there on your own? You didn’t get there on your own. It was because of the grace of God you are where you are.

You see, the sin of pride is the epitome of ungratefulness. As a matter of fact, if I remember the scriptures right, look over in chapter 6 and verses 911. This is where they came from. Isn’t it funny how quickly we forget it. We don’t give credit to God and glory to God for the people He used to get us where we are. They were arrogant. They were self conceited here. Look in 1 Corinthians 6:9. He says, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, not revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” But look at verse 11: “And such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Spirit of our God.”

That is where they had come from. Now it looks to me like people who had come from that would have a grateful heart. They didn’t have a grateful heart. They are living in that arrogance of thinking they got there on their own, and the apostle Paul is just immediately dressing them down for this. They deserved every bit of it. The sin of ungratefulness.

Look over in the book of Judges for a second. In chapter 6, remember the cycle of sin? You know why I went to Corinthians after going through Judges? Because it is the counterpart in the New Testament. Here is a nation that turned their backs against God and here is a church that is doing the same thing. They won’t grow up. They won’t get up under the Word. They have become conceited and arrogant. They have attached themselves to the men and not the message. They are not appreciating what God is doing in their life.

In Judges 6 this was a very difficult time. The Midianites had come in for seven straight years. When they would come in, they would come in on camels. They discovered the camel was like a weapon because it could go for days in the desert and not have to drink any water. They were coming in plundering, and the people were so afraid of them that they ran up in the mountains and hid in the caves. God is not going to tolerate this, and as they cried out to Him, He is going to raise up a deliverer. That is the pattern of the book of Judges.

But I want you to see something He does before He goes to Gideon, before He takes the matter in His own hands. Look what He does. In Judges 6:7 we read, “Now it came about when the sons of Israel cried to the Lord on account of Midian, that the Lord sent a prophet to the sons of Israel, and he said to them [this is the first time and the only time He does this in the whole book of Judges], “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel [now watch], ‘It was I who brought you up from Egypt.’” Now wait a minute, this is not the people He is talking to here. They were second generation after Joshua. It couldn’t have been them. It had to have been the generation before them. He said, “I brought you up from Egypt, and brought you out from the house of slavery. And I delivered you from the hands of the Egyptians and from the hands of all your oppressors, and dispossessed them before you and gave you their land, and I said to you, I am the Lord your God; you shall not fear the gods of the Amorites in whose land you live.” But look at the last phrase: “But you have not obeyed Me.” Don’t you understand where you have come from?

You see, this is the second generation, and they had heard all the stories. God said, “Do you understand that if it wasn’t for My grace, if it wasn’t for My love and My mercy, you would still be back in Egypt in a Hebrew slave camp? But because of who I am, I have taken you out and this is how you show Me your gratitude?” He says, “You have forsaken me. You will not obey Me.” You see, the root of all sin is ingratitude.

That is exactly one of the characteristics of a conceited church, a church that says we got here on our own. We didn’t need anybody else. They were not grateful for the people God had used in their life. They were not willing to admit what they have, they received, and they boast as if they had not received it.

A conceited church is self-complacent

Well, we have an indifference to the Word of God and ingratitude. The third characteristic of the conceited church is self complacency or self satisfaction. Look in verse 8. This is very sarcastic. It is an irony here of how Paul does this, but it is real sarcastic and they deserved everything he said. It got their attention. He was led of the Holy Spirit. Look at what he says. “You are already filled, you have already become rich, you have become kings [and then the indictment] without us; and I would indeed that you had become kings so that we also might reign with you.” I struggled with this verse for quite a while, but it is obvious to me that he is being very sarcastic and very pointed in what he is saying here.

Do the first couple of phrases remind you anything of the church of Ephesus in Revelation when he says, “Because you say I am rich and have become wealthy and have need of nothing, and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked?” That is exactly the way they were. The church of Corinth was the same way. In 1 Corinthians 4:8 Paul is using that sarcastic way of getting their attention. Corinth, the rich city, had infected the church. They were self satisfied with what they had. They were living as if they were already in the millennium and already had received their rewards. They lived as if they had even had the right to judge and that is not any man’s right. That is God’s right.

So look at Verse 8 again. He says, “You are already filled.” The idea of being filled is that you have an abundance. You have an overabundance. In other words, have you ever sat down to eat and you eat and eat and eat and then somebody brings some more food in front of you and they can’t give you anything because you are already full?

That is what he is saying to them. He said, “Hey, guys, you are already filled. Nobody can feed you anymore. Nobody can give anything to you.” Folks, I have preached to churches like this. They think they know it all. They have already arrived. They are not grateful for anything. They are not living up under the Word of God. They deify preachers instead of listening to the message. They sit there when you start preaching, fold their arms and say, “Alright, big boy, tell me something I haven’t already heard.” It is amazing sometimes that God hasn’t led me just to shut my Bible and leave because they are already full. Nobody can feed them.

But then Paul goes on. He says, “you have already become rich.” The wealth of Corinth was well known. But I think what he is saying here is since you have everything, nobody can give you anything. You have need of nothing. You are already rich. You are already full, you see. That is that conceit. That is that arrogance. You can’t teach me. I am already there.

Boy, we run into it overseas. It is incredible. They have doctorate degrees hanging off their shoulders, you know, and they think, “We already know it all. We are already full. We are already rich.”

Then he says, “you have become kings.” You enjoy the honor and prestige of kings. They were living like kings, as if they already had their crowns. You are already ruling and reigning. Who can offer you a crown? Who can feed you? Who can give you anything? Who can offer you a crown? You have already made it on your own, he says.

The burning indictment of that verse to me is, you are already filled, you have already become rich, you have become kings. How? Without us. You don’t need us. You never did believe that you needed us. You haven’t understood yet that God has used us as a vessel to get you to where you are. The Corinthians were living in an illusion. They were complacent, self satisfied, disobedient and ungrateful. Christ, in His wisdom, could not appease their hunger or their thirst. They couldn’t be filled because they lived as though they were already full. They didn’t even need the apostles. They just attached themselves to men. They didn’t need what they had to say. They got there on their own.

A friend of mine was having some trouble in his church. I get a lot of people calling me about that quite often, or when I am in a meeting they sit down and talk to me about it. He said, “I have got a group of people here who are fighting me.” I said, “What are you doing?” He said, “I am teaching the Word of God, but they are throwing it right back in my face. One lady came to me and here is the statement she made.” See if you have ever heard this before. It may be somebody you know. She said to him with that countenance that said she hadn’t been with God in ten years, “Young man, we were here before you got here and we will be here when you leave and you better watch your step.” Welcome to the church of Corinth. That is exactly what he is dealing with. You are already full. You are already rich. You are already kings. You don’t need the apostles. You know it all. You are not grateful in your heart.

Well, then Paul turns to reflect, and I think this is even sarcastic, too. I can’t prove it, but here is what he says: “and I would indeed that you had become kings so that we also might reign with you.” I wish you were there. I wish you were kings. I think he is indicating that they had reached such dizzy heights, he really wished they had, without the help of the apostles. They were arrogant and conceited and it is almost like Paul sarcastically says, “Oh, that we could have a humble place by your side, those apostles that we are, not wanted and not needed.”

The characteristics of a conceited people are they are indifferent to the Word. They exceed that which is written. They are ungrateful and self satisfied. This is Corinth, the New Testament equivalent to me of Judges in the Old Testament. And the only reason that they were where they were was because of God’s grace and the people He had used to get them where they were.

I have said many times, “When I get to heaven, if there are any crowns, I am going to give them to Brother Spiros and others before I give them to Jesus because of the people God has used to help me get to where I am.” That is overwhelming to me. I hope it is overwhelming to you where you are, because you can see the ingratitude and the indifference from God’s Word. When you start exalting men instead of God, you have exceeded what is written and that ungrateful spirit begins to cut in and then it just continues to spiral from that point on. Self complacent, you are full so nobody can feed you. You are rich so nobody can give you anything. You are kings so nobody can crown you, so therefore, you have need of nothing as the church of Ephesus in Revelation 3. But in reality, you are blind, naked, impoverished and can’t see it. We need to be aware of falling into that trap.

Read Part 32

Dr. Wayne Barber

Dr. Wayne Barber

Wayne has taught the message of “Living Grace” around the world. He is president, founder, and principal speaker of Living Grace Ministries and Senior Pastor of Woodland Park Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He learned to exegete Scripture by studying for 10 years with Spiros Zodhiates, one of the leading Greek scholars.
Dr. Wayne Barber

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