Words of Faith 5-3-17
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2017
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
<>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <><
1 Corinthians 3
Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly--mere infants in Christ.  I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.  You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men?  For when one says, "I follow Paul," and another, "I follow Apollos," are you not mere men?
When Paul first came and preached the message of Christ in Corinth, these folks believed. By faith they were justified and granted peace with God. This was the most basic and wonderful response to the Gospel-- "Since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God (Romans 5:1-2). But somehow things had stopped there.
Certainly Paul taught the Corinthian believers about all the blessings that come to them as Christians, but this was still just what Paul called the "milk" of life in the Spirit. At that time, their way of thinking and living was only beginning to be transformed (Rom. 12:2). They were still greatly influenced by worldly thinking and behavior. They were infants in Christ.
The critical truth for Paul was that the message of the Cross concerned more than justification-- God's work in Christ to make us right with God. It also concerned sanctification-- the transformation by the Spirit of a believer into the image of Christ. The message of the Cross called for a renewal of attitude and action in response to God's revelation. It called for righteousness in thought and deed (Heb. 5:11-14). The Corinthians had resisted this part of the message of the Cross and this working of the Spirit.
The Corinthians were still acting in worldly ways. Instead of mature behavior characterized by humility and concern for others and obedience to God, the Corinthians were infantile, self-centered, and therefore divisive. They wanted lives of exaltation without lives of humility because they did not understand that "Christ crucified" is a message concerned not only with justification but also with sanctification. This misunderstanding was at the root of their disunity.
The evidence of immaturity at Corinth was manifested in petty division over leaders. "When one says, 'I follow Paul,' and another, 'I follow Apollos,' are you not mere men?" This was not the mind of Christ. This was not the voice of Christ. This was not the transforming voice of the Spirit speaking. This was the world's way of coping with change. This was the self focused voice of believer who is an infant in Christ. The mind of Christ offers so much more as we surrender to the Spirit rather than to self.
This same error plays itself out in so many ways even today. It is easy to take just part of the message of the cross and miss the rest. One can grab the blessing of salvation-- but miss the message of holiness. Some will take hold of the peace with God and then stop at the point where the Spirit wants to transform them into the image of Christ. It is an easy and popular Gospel that offers peace with God without the transformation of the Spirit. It is what some have called "cheap grace". It is not so much wrong as it is flatly incomplete.
The problem with an incomplete Gospel is that it produces an incomplete church. The problem is not "only" that people miss the wonder of transformation possible, but the church is actually crippled. The church at Corinth was a terrible witness to the world because of the division and conflict there. Why would anyone want to be part of a church like that?
Some claimed salvation through the cross of Christ but continued to lead lives that were rife with immorality. Why would anyone want to be part of a faith that really makes no difference in a person's life? Why would someone respond to the offer of "life" in eternity-- but death and destruction for now?
The call of Paul will continue to be the Mind of Christ. As we surrender to the Spirit, He will transform us. He will move us past the milk of spiritual infancy. He will form us into the character of Christ.
Father God, help me to grow up. Help me to move past the basic message of peace through the cross and take hold of the work of Your Spirit in me. Give me the Mind of Christ. Help me to recognize worldly thinking in myself so that I may turn and surrender to You. In Jesus' name.