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1 Corinthians: The Church the World Needs | Don't Be A Baby!
October 17, 2021
1 Corinthians 2:14-3:4
14The 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. 15The 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.
1But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. 2I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, 3for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? 4For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human?
Here, at the end of chapter two and beginning of chapter three, Paul returns to addressing the Corinthians directly by explaining to them that the wisdom and knowledge they had been seeking after was not the wisdom and knowledge that would lead them to Christ. They had yet to be transformed by the power of the gospel. They were not spiritual people, but rather infants in Christ. In other words, they lacked the maturity and wisdom necessary to see the beauty of the gospel in its fullness. For Paul the evidence of this was in their continued divided and misplaced loyalty to either Paul or Apollos. For Paul, it is Christ who saves, Christ who unites, and therefore it is Christ who is worthy of our allegiance. This is the solid food the Corinthians are not ready to partake.
To discover and experience Jesus Christ in our midst
To cultivate mutually encouraging relationships
To participate in God’s mission to the world
Bless your servants, O God, and favor us with your steadfast love. May your love flow through us like springs of living water, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days of our lives. Amen
Responsive Prayer—Psalm 111:1-10
1Praise the Lord! I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
2Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them.
3Full of splendor and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures forever.
4He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and merciful.
5He provides food for those who fear him; he remembers his covenant forever.
6He has shown his people the power of his works, in giving them the inheritance of the nations.
7The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy;
8They are established forever and ever, to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.
9He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name!
10The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!
1. Looking at the Bible: What does the text say?
Read the text twice. Each time listen carefully and notice what grabs your attention.
In your reading and hearing of this passage, does it remind you of any other part of Scripture?
What themes is Paul revisiting here that he touched on earlier in Chapters 1 and 2?
Paul’s using many terms here that are not endearing: Infants in Christ, merely human, people of the flesh...but he also calls them brothers?
What does this say about the makeup of the church?
How can Paul hold these two realities in tension?
2. Looking at Jesus: Already in these first two chapters Paul has spoken of the fact that Jesus Christ has become our wisdom, sanctification, redemption and now Paul makes this bold proclamation: We have the mind of Christ.
What does it mean to have the mind of Christ?
What might some obstacles be to living as though we have the mind of Christ?
What are the implications for having the mind of Christ?
Application Question: How might the cross of Christ, which has been so much of Paul’s focus up to this point, shape our calling to have the mind of Christ?
3. For a people who thought they were filled with wisdom about themselves and the world, Paul is calling the Corinthians infants in Christ who are not ready for spiritual food as a call to humility. Specifically a humility of the mind/intellect.
How had the Corinthians exhibited arrogance or lack of humility?
Oftentimes we think that being “spiritual people” whether us or others gives license to tell others what to do or how to live. How ought “spiritual people” (mature Christians) view themselves and treat others? Hint: The answer is humility.
Why be humble?
Why is it difficult to live in humility?
Application question: How does Paul’s understanding of being spiritually mature shape how we are to live with one another?
4. Looking at our World: What are we to hope for?
Where do you think the Corinthians had put their hope?
Where or in whom do you think Paul is redirecting their hopes?
Often we are conditioned in our culture to rely on our own intellect and wisdom. How might this passage reshape our hope?
How would the cross of Jesus help us to look at the world with both honesty and hope?
How is the good news of Jesus both the milk and the solid food for the believer?
View Study Guide Notes
Question 1: Paul continues his exploration of the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. The spiritual person Paul is describing is someone who is able to make right judgments because of the work of the Holy Spirit. This does not mean a person has reached a higher plane of greatness or spirituality, but it does mean the person has the maturity and wisdom to make judgment on all aspects of life. In that the man has acquired greatness; it means that the Spirit of God is guiding them. Even though Paul is clearly letting the Corinthians know they are not spiritual people, his intention is to grow them into maturity so that eventually they will become those who are ready for the solid food of the gospel.
Question 2: In the previous passage, Paul said that only the Holy Spirit knows the depths of God and that we have been given that Spirit. Now, as Paul says we have the mind of Christ, Paul further builds on his exploration of the intimacy the believer has with God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. To have the mind of Christ, means in part that so much of our life is guided by God’s Word that Jesus’ explicit teachings, his call to obedience and promises of a new kingdom captivate our minds and imaginations, so we think with the mind of Christ. His Kingdom and his calling on our lives are the primary visions that capture our attention.
Question 3: Paul is turning the Corinthian Christians’ understanding of knowledge and wisdom on its head. As smart and wise about the world as they might have been, they were spiritual infants because they were filled with pride and contributed to division rather than working for unity. Having the mind of Christ and being a spiritual person according to Paul isn’t having the right theological answers, it’s knowing how to love and knowing how to live in community. It’s living in humility not arrogance and pride.
Question 4: As Jason discussed in his sermon, we never grow beyond the good news of the gospel. The death and resurrection of Jesus are always before us and always the lense by which we are to see all of life. This ought to be a source of great hope for us because it means we can return day after day in any circumstance in our lives to this great reality that Christ is our life, and his life, death and resurrection is our only comfort. We never outgrow the cross. We grow more deeply into understanding the implications of the cross of Christ!