Read Your Bible – Part 4
1 Corinthians 2
January 24, 2021
Pastor Craig Ledbetter
Bible Baptist Church, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland
I. Introduction (John 6:63)
John 6:63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
A. Three Truths
1. Physical things alone, profit us nothing
2. Spiritual things, give life!
3. What you hold in your hand, is a spiritual Book – the words of God!
B. There is More to US than just flesh and bone
1. Three parts to every one of us – body, soul, AND SPIRIT
2. But we have them out of order (1Thessalonias 5:23)
a. 1Thessalonians 5:23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
b. We are well fed, physically
c. We are pretty well instructed intellectually
d. We have many friends, and emotionally are doing okay
e. But people are STARVING Spiritually – even Christians
1) That’s why people, marriages, governments, and churches are so messed up
2) We are in “perilous times” because of only one reason – we are more and more ignorant of the Bible
3) Psalm 9:17 The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.
4) Matthew 4:4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
5) The less Bible in your life, the less life you are living!
f. Instead of focusing so much on your BODY, and then your soul, and givbing the leftovers to your Spirit, reverse that order!
C. The Bible is MORE than just words on paper
1. Yes, it is a Physical, Material Book you can hold in one hand!
a. It contains Words on paper, bound into a Book of 66 individual books
b. Hand copied for 3,000 years, then printed with a printing press starting in 1450, now digitized and in kindle format!
c. Portions of the Bible are translated into almost 7,000 languages all over the world!
d. This is quite a Book
2. But it is Eternal (Matthew 24:35)
a. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
b. It speaks into all hearts, of all nations, and in all times, and will never fade away
3. And it is SPIRITUAL (John 6:63)
a. John 6:63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
b. This is a big deal folks – you must understand this!
c. This book exists in two realms
1) In this physical realm, right here, in your hand, in a bookshop
2) And in another realm/dimension – the spiritual realm
3) EXAMPLE: A person can be half in water, and half out (called swimming)
d. You can read every word of the Bible, and miss the point of it all
e. 2Corinthians 4:3,4 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
D. I want to show you that this Book is spiritual, and is meant to feed our spirit
1. Yes it is historical, scientific, legal, and political
2. But it is most of all spiritual
3. It can be memorized in your head
4. But it was meant to be understood and held onto in your HEART and your spirit!
5. Psalm 119:11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart [NOT MY HEAD ONLY], that I might not sin against thee.
II. Background of 1st Corinthians
A. Corinth was a Greek city of almost a million people at that time
B. Paul visited it in Acts chapter 18
C. Massive numbers of got saved and became a huge church
D. But very immature – very carnal believers
E. They had been influenced by so many false teachers that used experience and lies instead of just the Scriptures
F. Paul writes this 1st letter to the Corinthians to set things straight
G. And he starts with warning them of missing the spiritual nature of the Scriptures – they saw the Bible as just a physical book, that was a little weird
A. The Bible is Foolish on Purpose (1Corinthians 2:1)
1. 1Corinthians 2:1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.
2. When Paul preached the Bible… He spoke God’s words – he declared the written testimony of what God thinks, what God sees, and about what GOD is doing
3. It is not filled with “Excellent Speeches” and fancy sounding words
a. Like Shakespeare- “To be or not to be, that is the question”
b. Or Winston Churchill - “We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”
c. Everybody agrees that THOSE are excellent speeches!
d. But Jude 1:16 says, These are murmurers, complainers, [TALK SHOW HOSTS] walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration because of advantage.
e. Romans 16:18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.
f. THAT’S what politicians, reporters and advertisers do… they use “good words and fair speeches” to deceive the hearts of the simple-minded to follow them!
g. Not the Bible!
4. The Bible is Foolishness to the Lost (1Corinthians 1:18) – who do not know Jesus
a. 1Corinthians 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
b. THIS Book is not like any other book ever written
c. No human would have written such a book – only God would!
d. It was designed and written to be foolish to people
5. And I am Okay with that!
a. I am okay that God did not write the Bible to be a best seller
b. God did not speak His words to impress you or me
c. It does not need to be updated, changed, smoothed out, fluffed up, or sugar coated so that people want it
d. It is what it is, on purpose!
B. The Bible Has One Main Focus (1Corinthians 2:2)
1. 1Corinthians 2:2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
2. God had one main focus in every page in this Book…
a. And it is NOT you!
b. Not your happiness, or your wealth, or your success, or your feelings!
3. Only Jesus Christ and Him Crucified (1Corinthians 1:23) and your faith in HIM
a. Luke 24:25-27 Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
b. From Genesis 1 to Revelation 22, you will find Jesus outshining all the history, all the science, all the battles, all the ceremonies, all the kings and queens, and all the struggles! Jesus was there! And not only Jesus, but the cross!
c. Because only THAT truth changes us, saves a soul!
4. The centrepiece and focus of all Scripture is the crucifixion of Christ (1Corinthians 1:17,18,23) – what Jesus accomplished on the cross!
a. 1Corinthians 1:17,18 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
1) Not ceremonies like baptism – baptism isn’t on every page, Jesus is!
2) Not fancy words and musical performances
3) Because that all takes away from what happened on the cross
4) Every event in the Bible, every story and parable points to something about the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
b. 1Corinthians 1:21,22 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:
c. 1Corinthians 1:23,24 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, [WE PREACH] Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
d. So, The cross was greatest victory, hidden in plain sight!
e. It was the wisest act of God
f. It showed the deepest wisdom towards the problem of sin
g. It was and is the climax of the greatest love story ever told!
h. And I get to preach it every week, and tell it to somebody every day!
C. The Bible is Preached and Taught by Flawed People (1Corinthians 2:3)
1. 1Cor 2:3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.
2. I like this truth!
3. Only Jesus’ words and ways of speaking were perfect! My words are imperfect!
a. John 7:45,46 Then came the officers to the chief priests and Pharisees; and they said unto them, Why have ye not brought him [JESUS]? The officers answered, Never man spake like this man.
b. Luke 4:20-22 And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph's son?
4. WE are Weak, Fearful, and Tremble much when preaching/teaching
a. 1Corinthians 2:3 And I [THE GREAT APOSTLE PAUL] was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.
b. Paul was nervous standing before people and preaching/teaching!
c. No true preacher of this Book is confident in himself or in his ability
5. We are Insufficient to the task of speaking for God
a. 2Corinthians 3:5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God
b. Exodus 4:10-12 And Moses said unto the LORD, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue. [THAT NEVER CHANGED] And the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man's mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD? Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say. [GOD DIDN’T PROMISE TO GIVE HIM AN ELOQUENT TONGUE]
c. Jeremiah 1:6,7 Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child. But the LORD said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak.
6. And I am okay with that too!
D. The Bible is Filled with Foolish Words (1Corinthians 2:4)
1. This is important to understand
2. NOT wise sounding words – at least not to the lost world
a. 1Corinthians 2:4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom…
c. 1Corinthians 1:17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.
d. Big, impressive words take our attention away from what happened on the cross!
3. Rude and Offensive words
a. 2Corinthians 11:6 But though I be rude in speech, yet not in knowledge; but we have been throughly made manifest among you in all things.
b. Rude and crude is this Book of books! That’s why MEN used to love this Book!
c. James 3:2 For in many things we [PREACHERS] offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.
d. Remember, only Jesus was perfect in speech, and YET, even HE still offended people!
e. Exposed their hidden sins
f. Exposed their hard hearts
g. Exposed their hypocrisy
h. Talked straight up, not politically correct!
4. Confusing words
a. We can’t explain everything we read
b. Some of this book IS confusing, and hard to understand – Peter admitted it
5. Stuttering and stumbling words
a. Words that are hard to say and pronounce
b. sometimes not making any sense! At least on the surface
6. All for a reason, on purpose!
E. So that Our Faith is Anchored in the Power of Hearing and Believing the WORD of God (2:4,5)
1. 1Corinthians 2:4,5 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
2. Not through hearing and believing fancy, fair speeches, or motivational messages
3. But by the power of God through believing what His word says!
4. Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
5. So, The power of God right now, today is IN the word itself – it has always been in His word
a. It is like a tiny seed
b. But it has the precise power to expose, cut, convict, humble, and …break every sinner down to size!
c. And then save, encourage, equip and fill EVERY believer to maturity!
d. It tells us where we came from, what is in our heart, and what is going to happen tomorrow!
e. It speaks life and light and hope into any dark and broken heart
6. It just needs to be believed and obeyed to experience it (Hebrews 4:2) For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.
a. The Gospel cannot just be preached
b. It cannot just be heard
c. It has to be believed – mixed with faith
d. EXAMPLE: like mixing eggs with flour to make a cake! Got to be BLENDED!
e. 1Thessalonians 2:13 For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.
A. Only This Book Proves God’s Power – my main point! (1Corinthians 2:4)
1. No other Book has the power of THIS Book
2. The words in this Book are powerful
a. Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful…
b. Matthew 8:8 The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.
c. Jesus then spoke, and the man was perfectly healed!
3. The pages of this Book shows constantly what GOD can and will do if we would just trust Him!
B. Only in the Bible Can You Know What God Has Freely Given to You (1Corinthians 2:9,10,12,13)
1. No one has ever dreamed, or imagined, or calculated what God has prepared for those who love Him
2. No one has ever heard anyone else figure out what God has prepared for them that just love Him
3. But God has revealed the most amazing, unbelievable, incredible, mind-blowing, fantastic things about life, about ourselves, about the future, about forgiveness, about love, about grace, and about heaven
4. In what?
5. Yes, in the Bible.
6. EXAMPLE: It is like strong prescription glasses, showing you things you otherwise couldn’t see
C. Only the Spirit of God Makes the Word of God Work in You
1. What is THIS Book called? (Ephesians 6:17) And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God
2. Paul’s speech, his words were not HIS words, not enticing, and acceptable words, but words demonstrating the power of God
a. Spiritual Power!
b. Zechariah 4:6 Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.
3. Without the Spirit of God, teaching us what we see in the word of God it will never make any sense (2Corinthians 3:6; John 6:63)
a. 2Corinthians 3:6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.
b. John 6:63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
4. THAT’S the missing ingredient in most people’s lives – the Teacher! The Power behind the words on every page! The Holy Spirit of God!
5. And you get the Holy Spirit of God, the very moment you humble yourself and ask for the Son of God, to forgive you and save your soul!
V. More Next Week
A. Compare the natural man and the spiritual man
B. The spiritual side of Scripture is ignored, or missed
C. God HAS to open our understanding beyond just letters on a page to experience the power of this Book!
D. How to read and enjoy the Bible spiritually instead of just ‘intellectually’
A. There is more to you than just body and soul
1. You have a spirit
2. And it is probably starving!
B. There is more to this Bible than just a physical book with ink and paper, and words and chapters.
1. It is spiritual, and is meant to give you life, and to feed your spirit!
2. Like food feeds your body, and love feeds your soul
3. You say,
a. But it is foolishness (irrational, stupid, crazy, laughable, weird)… and you are right!
b. It doesn't impress me or my friends when we hear it... and you would be right!
c. It is so negative and keeps reminding us about sin, and the penalty for our sin... and you are so right
d. But you have said stupid things from that pulpit… and you are so right
e. Those words are sometimes offensive and rude… and you are right again
C. But that is all by design – God wrote this Bible HIS way!
D. So that you will respond not to ME, not to manipulation, but to the Spirit of God speaking to you as you read and hear the very words of God!
1. You can read every word of the Bible, and miss the point of it all if you don’t learn to yield to the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit of God!
E. And so that you let God, through His words, humble you, and save your soul! (1Corinthians 1:21) For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
F. And then you will start to discover in the Bible all that God has freely given you because of the cross!
G. Will you take what God has offered you?
1. God gave you Himself, in Jesus
3. Eternal life