SKILL IN UNDERSTANDING, the book of I Corinthians

As people ignore the Bible and religion today, they tell you either “it is so
confusing as there are so many religions and denominations and competing
churches”, or they tell you, “it is hard to understand the Bible since there are so
many interpretations and interpreters.”  They are right!  And it will only get
harder as we get further into the Falling Away that must comes before Jesus,
for the number of Bible teachers with itching ears will grow like a fortress
around church members to both give them what they want and in order to
protect them from sound doctrine; and simultaneously with that will come
among churches and denominations an intolerance toward sound doctrine {if
you doubt this, please read II Timothy 4:3,4}.  If you think it is bad now, wait
until we are further into the Falling Away, about the time that some Muslim
leader in the Middle East becomes obvious as the son of perdition of II
Thessalonians, also the third of the kings from the north of Daniel.  If you think
the last words of II Timothy 4:4 sound bad when most of the kingdom and most
of the local churches turn completely away from truth and turn into fables, it is
more awesome to consider first the teaching of Jesus that “sin will abound as
the love of many waxes cold and second that Daniel forecasted long ago that
during that period of the Falling besides Satan being loosed to ride on that vast
wave of lawlessness and sin, that as the Holy Spirit is withdrawn {Paul in II
Thessalonians} the “power of the Holy people will be completely shattered”
(Daniel 12:7)Anyway for the few who will listen, and surely we must still tell the
whole counsel of God like Jeremiah though no one listened, the way of skill in
understanding is the prime subject of the book of I Corinthians.  That skill in
understanding the Bible is called spiritual wisdom as contrasted to the wisdom
of the world, what we would call the wisdom of the academics--the PhD’s,
ThDs, colleges, and seminaries; and while I am a strong believer in real
scholarship like Emerson advocated in his essay “The American Scholar”, true
scholarship is hardly promoted or achieved with the passing out of pieces of
paper; and much less is such a highest piece of paper the sign of spiritual
wisdom on the Bible as you can readily see by checking the list of such who
have signed up for the Jesus Seminar.

8-1:  A good place to start on skill in understanding from I Corinthians.

NOTE: While the section heads are numbered with chapter 8, because of the
chapter location in the original book of BELIEVE AND BE BAPTIZED on the
Life and Letters of Paul, in this re-write on the online Bible course, it is session
7a in the series.

Go ahead and read and then practice Bernard Ramm’s book on hermeneutics,
THE SCIENCE OF BIBLICAL INTERPRETATION; but before and after get and
keep your head screwed on spiritually correct and in the right perspective with
a Spirit led reading of I Corinthians 1:18-2:16.
1.  Let the Word of God, written by the Spirit of God {the Holy Spirit} through
Prophets and Apostles (read II Peter 1:21), and properly understood only
through the personal assistance of this same Spirit overcome the dominant
thought patterns of this world in which we live, the thought patterns of those
who:  (1) naturally {we must later distinguish between the natural and the
spiritual man to divide the world into two major groups} consider the message
of the cross foolishness (I Cor 1:18), and (2) are perishing as contrasted to
those “who are being saved” (1:18).
2.  Surely you know and respect some wise in this world, either rich or with
diplomas of the wisdom of this world; however did you realize that way back in
the early days of the Spirit’s development of the Bible through Prophets, in fact
back at Isaiah in Isaiah 29:14--yes, you see it quoted in i Corinthians 1:19--
God, the great ruler and Creator of this Universe announced WARFARE AND
DESTRUCTION on “the wisdom of the wise”

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the
understanding of the prudent.”  (I Cor 1:19 and Isaiah 29:14)

NOTE:  The “prudent” would be those of status and position in this world
because they have money and possessions, while the wise would be
teachers or any stepped in the ways and philosophies of this world.

3.  It is still true today even in America, in spite of cultural propaganda,
traditions and customs, that “not many wise according to the flesh, not many
mighty, not many noble, are called”.  (I Cor 1:26)

NOTE:  While it seems almost foreign and un-American to face these
blunt words from the Word of God, without such a perspective you are
hampered from understanding, knowledge, and wisdom as presented in
this book of I Corinthians.

8-2:  Great passages on the gifts of the Spirit.

Since “understanding” like prophesy {preaching}, or miracles, or healing, or
even the speaking in tongues {languages, not exactly the same as unknown
language which is not the language  of a country or peoples}, is a gift from God
the Father through the Holy Spirit, we should begin the in-depth Bible study of
Understanding with the most famous passages on the gifts of the Spirit:  (1)
Romans 12:3-8; (2) I Corinthians chapter 12: and (3) I Corinthians chapter 14.
1.  Romans 12:3-8.
People, even in churches, hardly change from the generations of first century
Christianity until now, since basic human nature as it is under the maturing
process after the new birth remains the same.  There is absolutely nothing new
under the sun about the new birth, spiritual development in maturity toward the
likeness of Christ, and the still inherent nature of the sinful human nature.  
However, it does seem because of all the competitive emphasis in American
society as encouraged and promoted in education, sports, and many other
activities; there correspondingly has  been a more competitive outbreak in
church member and churches’ competition for the best spiritual gifts of the
spirit.  In the nature of preventive {always better than corrective} prophesy,
Paul attempts in Romans 12:3-8 to laid groundwork with not “thinking of
yourself more highly than you ought to” (12:3) in order to discuss first (1) how
to fit into the total presently existing body of Christ {the actual assembly of the
firstborn that are still and now on earth}, and (2) all members of the same body
and as such also members of one another.
Having said these things, Paul is read to start spreading out part of this whole
new after the life and death of Christ concept of the remaining on earth body of
Christ with how it functions around the gifts of the Spirit:
(1) prophesy (preaching and other public utterances in any assembly of Christ}
in proportion to the gift of faith in that speaker;
(2)  ministry, let us use this gift of grace in the likewise grace of our ministering
{essentially with a motive of profit and personal gain of any kind};
(3)  he who exhorts, use this gift in exhortation with not other reasons or
(4)  he who gives, with graceful and abundant reality in like measure as this gift
of the ability to give was initially given to him by the Spirit of God;
(5)  church leaders with diligence attempting to emulate the Spirit’s like
behavior; and
(6) the shower of mercy doing it cheerfully.

NOTE:  Right up front if it is intended by the Bible that we are to
correlate the 3 separate lists on gifts of the preventive passage above
with the 2 to follow in I Corinthians, we are in for a challenge; for how do
we correlate for example “showers of mercy” and “givers” with the gifts:  
(1) of word  of wisdom, word of knowledge, faith from the Spirit, gifts of
healing and working of miracles, prophesy, discerning of spirits, types of
languages, translation of languages (the list in I Corinthians 12:8-10); and
(2) first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles,
then gifts of healing, helps, administrations, and varieties of tongues (the
list of I Cor 12:28).

Some things are immediately obvious to us:
(1).  church leaders can be correlated with administrations.
(2).  showers of mercy correlated with “helps” as we recall the charitable work
of the first church in Jerusalem as members sold all that they had and put it in a
common pot for giving to the poorer members and other needy.
(3).  givers  likewise can be correlated with helps.
2.  I Corinthians 12.
If you have been reading your Bible along with this study, you are beginning to
recognize the church related issue of competitive human nature that Paul dealt
with in the first churches, the same local church and denominational problem of
human nature today.  Take the matter of human pride, arrogance, and a lack of
Christian perspective on just one gift, well really two gifts since the same
problem generally comes in the same duo, speaking in unknown tongues and
healing and miracles.  Jimmy Swaggart, as you have noticed, although we
respect many things about his spiritual services {something largely lacking in
other churches and on TV}, he definitely leaves the impression in the mind of
the listeners that there are no Christians if they do not speak in unknown
There is a young relative new convert in Burleson Texas--who is just about the
best Ford mechanic anywhere--who shows a marvelous conversion from a wild
youth to an exuberant Christians witness; and who claims, and I and others
believe, that he has the gift of healing {later we will understand it as miracles
since it is the doctors that have more normally the gift of healing when God
blesses them} which enabled him, as he explains to lay hands on the shoulder
of a customer in the garage and he was healed immediately.  Rather than
doubt or cast any questions on the fact that God does give the gift of miracles
to some Christians, and not all, and that this young convert does have this gift
of healing; we still must in the nature of these 3 important passes on gifts in the
NT, question an arrogance that comes with them.  First of all, if you check the
pecking order of 12:28, miracles is only fourth and healing is fifth, putting any
healer in his proper 4th or 5th place to apostles, prophets, and teachers.  
Instead, possessing this gift has gone to his head, just like church members in
NT days, where they think that they are the only Christians.  In other words,
any customer that comes into the garage is considered as either no Christian at
all or considered as inferior to the healer.  You see, this ought not to be!  He
should show some humility before a teacher or pastor of a church.
1.  The very first verse of I Corinthians 12 leaves no doubt of the subject
matters:  it begs a needed lack of ignorance on “spiritual gifts”  (12:1)
2.  There are diversities of gifts but the source if the same Holy Spirit of God
sent by God the Father to the earth after the ascension of Christ to continue
the work of Christ. (12:4)

NOTE:  This is like a subtitle, diversity of gifts, to the introduced in verse
subject of spiritual gifts.  Don’t you see the positive of emphasis.  All
Christians are not the same as the diversity of the many gifts must be
distinguished in each.  Here is another place we have trouble in
separating our Christian faith, based on the Bible, from our American
democratic faith.  In America, all have equal rights under the law; but in
Christians you must consider with what gifts the Spirit of God has
favored them.

3.  Next, in 12:4-6, he warns us of what is to come with the use of 3 distinct
phrases:  (1) “diversities of gifts” but the same SPIRIT; (2) “differences of
ministries” but the same LORD JESUS CHRIST;  and (3) “diversities of
activities” but the same God the Father that is above all and in  all.

NOTE:  Did you see two very interesting matters:  (1) that with the one
spirit of 12:4, and with the one Lord Jesus Christ of 12:5 and with the
one God the Father of 12:6, we are back to the seven major Ones of
sound doctrine of Ephesians along with the sparing of effort to advance
in Christian testimony on all 7 fronts simultaneously.  In fact, for unity
the absolute necessity!  (2) Even as you will notice that the hierarchy of
heaven--Holy Spirit, Jesus, and God the Father is in ascending order
from the bottom to the top, so the implementations on earth in churches
is in descending order to the finest points of applications, in other words
from “gifts” to “ministries’ to “activities”.  Or you might want to consider
the fine point of difference between gifts, ministries, and activities as
flowing up also, this time from what the gift is in the individual Christian
up to the ministry that member performs in a Christian body up to the
assembled activities in the specific church.


“I therefore the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the  calling
with which you were called {today, like with the young mechanic with the gift of
healing at Burleson and in SBC history with Freddie Gage with the gift of
evangelism that is always that ugly head of human nature that forgets the true
complete nature of the CHRISTIAN CALLING because of a warped sense of
ego on one gift only, forgetting that they are only 1 of the 7 gifts and also
forgetting the priority sequence of the gifts:

“And God has appointed these in the church:  first apostles, second
prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps,
administrations, varieties of tongues.” (I Corinthians 12:28)
“And He Himself {Christ, the Ascended Christ} gave some to be apostles,
some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers.”  
(Ephesians 4:11)

...with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one
another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of
peace.  There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called one
hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and
Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”  
(Ephesians 4:1-6)


Note:  Don’t you see in the ego of Swaggart, Darrell, and formerly Freddie
Gage that bad attitude that the word of God either came out of them or came
to them only.  And today in the one church body, we can find many duplications
of this same bad attitude, as Christians leaders and others in the body run
amuck with only 1 of the 7 gifts and ONEs.

You know it is not really this complicated, and one simple verse could take care
of all those destructive problems on the peace and unity of the one church
body, that is “not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to”; and we
could add “about your only little gift”.
4.  So “gifts”, “ministries”, and “activities’ will outline what is to follow for us;
however since we recognize quickly that only the first two are in chapter 12,
you must study anew again in a refreshed perspective the 13th, or love chapter
of I Corinthians as the real activities of the church.  Could we summarize it as
manifestations of the love of the great God of this Universe, the Father of all.

8-3.  Our Bible Outline of chapter 2 and 3 on I Corinthians.

Some of you have participated in the “Top 12 Topics of the Bible” online and
free survey of the Bible, also called “The OT according to the NT” since it
outlines and summarizes the whole Bible according  to OT quotes in the NT that
are interpreted in the NT.”  In short, as you sequence simultaneously through
both these top topics while you are also running through the Bible from Genesis
to Malachi, and with explanations in Matthew through Revelation with the
quotes, you will note or you have noted that Bible words like “wise”, “wisdom”
and “understanding” are oft repeated in the Bible. These as background for our
study and in order to justify the gist of I Corinthians as “spiritual wisdom or Skill
In Understanding, we briefly list them below.
1.  While Paul in I Cor 15:45 is emphasizing the difference between the first
Adam and Christ the second Adam, also the difference between the natural and
the spiritual body, the first man from earth and the second from heaven, he also
contrasts the living soul and the living spirit. {While it is not immediately clear
from this topical statement in the Bible outline that “Wisdom on the Gospel” is in
progress here, it will be clear as we look at the context of I Corinthians itself in
this chapter.}
{Same on this one except it is part of Paul’s development of “Wisdom on
Marriage”.  This is also something not likely to be heeded today in churches or
outside churches, as we have not yet learned to admit and confess guilt on God’
s pattern for marriage without become a rebel against the very will of God on
marriage.  In other words, it is not the end of the world if you have divorced;
but you must admit to God and confess to God that you have committed this
sin against His teachings, and then simply go on from there with a fresh slate
as believers must do for all the sins in their lives!  Denying that the clear Bible
teachings are so will not get it, as Jesus reinforced the original concept God
had for marriage in Genesis and Paul does it again here in I Corinthians:  what
you really do is become part of the world wide rebellion against the will of God!
You might even consider that you are a “tare”, placed in a church by Satan.  
Definitely part of the Falling Away as you rebel against the sound doctrine
(alias sound behavior) of Bible marriage, as you desire and seek a pastor who
will overlook that rebellion; and you also will find in that rebellion the correlation
with a heart waxing cold toward Jesus, the Bible, and God as this sin of
rebellion grows with you!}  
2.  So serious is this matter of joining  with God that the Bible considers when a
man has a relationship with a harlot that he becomes one body with her  (I Cor
3.  Deuteronomy 32:12 and I Corinthians 10:20:  (1)  The LORD God led Israel
and there was not to be any strange gods among them; and (2)  The Gentiles
sacrifice to demons not to God, and the Christian is to have no part in this
worship of demons.  {This is actually part of the point of Paul on “Wisdom
about the Falling Away” and on sexual immorality, that is with the proper
exercise of spiritual wisdom on conscience; and the actual quote of that context
is from Exodus 32:6 in I Corinthians 10:5-8.

“But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were
scattered in the wilderness.  Now these things became our examples, to
the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted.  
And do not become idolaters as were some of them.  As it is written, ‘The
people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.’”  Nor let us
commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in on day twenty-
three thousand fell....”  (I Corinthians 10:5-8 and Exodus 32:6)

{Actually the incident of sexual immorality was a Acacia Grove where “the
people began to commit harlotry with the women of Moab” recorded in
Numbers 25, and Numbers tells us that “24,000 died” (25:9); but you know how
sometimes the numbering is different depending on whether it is only men, or
men and women, or men, women and children; but what is the difference is
1,000 out of 24,000.  The bottom line is that God killed them through a plague
immediately after one of the men took a Midianite woman to his tent in the
presence of the whole assembly.}

3.   Job 5:13 and I Corinthians 3:19:  God catches the wise in their own
craftiness. {And now we have come to the point in the topical outline, to the
start of the wisdom literature with Job, Psalms, and etc. where we are getting
into the “wise” of this world, their wisdom, and which set a background or
starting point for Paul to develop spiritual wisdom and understanding.  
Remember that during the second missionary journey Paul had an extensive
ministry among the Greeks, a dominant aspect of their culture being a seeking
after wisdom, at Thessalonica, Berea, Athens, and Corinth; and at Athens, just
before Corinth he preached “in the midst of the Areopagus” (Acts 17:23) noting
how “very religious” they were, and even showed some of their cultural wisdom
by quoting from one of their poets, “‘For we are also His offspring’” (Acts 17:
4.  I Corinthians 15:27.  Granted that there are many stories, many chapters,
verses, and books in the Bible; but the total subject matter for the practical
purposes of Christian faith can be summarized as faith in God, Christ, the Holy
Spirit, the Bible, and Salvation.  Get that and you have enough of the Bible for
life.  The following important passage helps to establish the present and eternal
relationship between God the Father and Christ the Son.

“The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.  For he hath put all
things under his feet.  But when he saith all things are put under him, it is
manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him.  And
when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also
himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may
be all in all.”   (I Corinthians 15:26-28  KJV)

(1).  There are still some enemies such as death that has not be subjected to
Christ as the Son of Man, or  Christ as the Lord of heaven and earth.
(2).  God the Father has ordained that all in heaven and earth be under the feet
of Christ, and heaven is already there.  May Gods will be done on earth as it is
in heaven as more people still on earth are subjected to the Lordship of Jesus
(3).  God the Father did not put Himself in subjection to the Lord Jesus Christ.
(4).  After the Second Coming of Christ when everything on earth also comes
under the actual Lordship of Jesus then Jesus will Himself be subjected to the
LORDSHIP of the Father.
(5).  God the Father may ultimately be all in all .
{While you do not find wise, wisdom, or understanding here, you do find death
and eschatology; and it is part of the passage on “Wisdom about the Gospel”,
the end of the Gospel including glorification, or the resurrection body; and you
just can find as little on the Bible on the latest of last things than this important
passage where Christ delivers the subdued kingdom to God the Father in order
that the Father may be all in all.}  This is also an important doctrine that we
sometimes overlook!  And in keeping also with the message of I Corinthians 15:
26-28 above, we think of the complete dominion by man over earth by
overcoming death and sin of Hebrews, likewise the benefits of the Christian
calling of Romans 8 previously discussed.  By the way, the passage is also
another good example of the kingdom without the use of the word kingdom.
5.  Who Then Will See God and Be Saved?  Those who are sensitive to the
Conscience of others as well as his own Christian Conscience, seeking their
good as well as his own good:  Psalm 24:1 and I Corinthians 10:26.  {How
important it is today to consider this in the light of the American Conscience,
which has become more guided by accusing others and excusing self like the
non-Christian Gentiles conscience, and as much governed by the “toleration” of
the American Democratic Faith {for more see the webpage on
AmericanDemocraticFaith} as by any spiritual wisdom, so that we will outline
this portion of I Corinthians, as also dictated and demanded by the context, as
“Wisdom on Conscience”.}
{Note:  as we continued to scan coming to VI on the “Wisdom of God” where in
the topical and historical sequenced outline get to what is normally considered
as the wisdom literature of the Bible such as Proverbs, Ecclesiastes--among
the writings of the King of Israel most noted throughout the world of that day as
a man of wisdom, we do not at first find any quotes from I Corinthians, none at
all from Proverbs which is also a shock {are we to think that Proverbs simply
covers good wisdom of the world rather than spiritual wisdom, although we do
find that James revels in quoting from Proverbs as well as Peter and John, and
perhaps as you noticed on “Wisdom from God” in Proverbs, Paul does quote
from Proverbs in I Timothy.  Is this a clue for us as to some similarity between I
Timothy and I Corinthians?}.  

NOTE:  Don’t miss reading the June Newsletter which continues in I Corinthians
and the “Skill of Understanding Bible” which begins with those Bible readers
who are given the grace of Bible understanding.  Yes, it is a grace and a gift of
the grace of God to properly understand the Bible according to the ASPI.  {For
a thorough biblical discussion of exactly what the ASPI, go to Authorized Semi-
Public Interpretation,
com/site/understandbible/bibleinterpretation%3Atheaspi , the sister website of }
May 2012 Newsletter
If you prefer, you can download a copy
of this session 7a in PDF (must have
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