‘Power Not Talk’ 4:14-21

The important role humility plays in the life of the church

Christ’s way is our example, there is no way we can follow him without being like Him

As we build a church culture here @ Midtown an essential element of our fellowship is Humility

Humility is the quiet, consistent obedience to Christ’s ways and words

Humility is a realistic estimation of one’s own spiritual maturity

Humility is recognizing God’s work in the life of Leaders that He places you under

Humility is the power of God displayed in life, relationships, serving; not words

(4:8 & 4:10 Last Week)

Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have begun to reign—and that without us! How I wish that you really had begun to reign so that we also might reign with you!

We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored!

  • These are statements that point out the immaturity of the Corinthian believers
  • Sarcastic rhetorical way of making an argument (The Truth In Love)
  • The Corinthians had unrealistic estimations of their Spiritual Maturity


I am writing this not to shame you but to warn you as my dear children.

  • The goal of Godly leadership is never shame, but children need guidance
  • Speaking the truth in love to others is a major challenge (Spirit Empowered)
  • Parental Love is not passive, parents have a responsibility to address issues
  • True love is displayed in discipline
    • My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in. ~ Proverbs 3:11-12

Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me.

  • A guardian is not a parent…a different level of care and commitment
  • A father is involved from conception forward (a Spiritual Father is a real gift)
  • A child learns by imitating their parents

For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.

  • Timothy is the son being faithful in the Lord, which they have strayed from
  • The reminder is of Pauls way, which is the way of Christ (Apostolic Way)
  • Jesus imprinted the Disciples & Paul, they in turn set the pattern

Some of you have become arrogant, as if I were not coming to you.

  • Arrogance is the opposite of Humility
  • Arrogance knows better and does not place itself under authority
  • They think they don’t have to answer to Paul and God’s chosen leaders / way

But I will come to you very soon, if the Lord is willing, and then I will find out not only how these arrogant people are talking, but what power they have.

  • There must have been some report to Paul of the boasting and arrogance
  • Paul is grounded in God’s will
  • Are the Corinthians talking the talk or walking the walk?
  • He sends Timothy to represent 1st but he will come himself

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.

  • Paul knew the Power of God and had been there / done that by God’s power
  • Talk is rooted in arrogance, power in humility
  • God’s kingdom is honored and gloried by His power not our talk

What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a rod of discipline, or shall I come in love and with a gentle spirit?

  • Paul is saying there will be correction, their approach will determine his
  • God will discipline His church, one way or another

Application Questions:

What do you have in place to keep you from becoming ‘Spiritually Arrogant’?

Who can you imitate as examples of ‘Spiritual Maturity’?

How do we as a body embrace of culture of humility?

In what ways do you accept correction and discipline from leadership you are under?

Following Christ In Obscurity: 1 Corinthian 4:5-13

Christ has called HIS followers to follow Him…not to seek recognition

Beware performance ministry…Church Planter: ‘Cover Boy’ / Culture of Stories

This kind of Christian Culture elevates our flesh, not being like Christ

Audience: Immature Christians making the church standards the world’s standards.

Are you ok with obscurity, perhaps even mistreatment?

Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God. (Last Week)

  • No Judgement until Judgement day
  • If we are not judging each others motives we can love in from grace
  • Almost all of Matthew 6 Jesus is laying down what Paul is saying here

Now, brothers and sisters, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.” Then you will not be puffed up in being a follower of one of us over against the other.

  • These things: Unity / Christ = Wisdom / Spirit Revelation / Mature Leadership
  • Mature Christians applying Scripture benefits the Body (healthy relationships)
  • Stick with what God Says, not what the world says
  • Grounding in Scripture keeps you humble and from being part of cliques

For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?

  • Did some leader provide your salvation?
  • Did you make it happen yourself?
  • If God did IT ALL why do believers start preforming & posturing in the body?

Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have begun to reign—and that without us! How I wish that you really had begun to reign so that we also might reign with you!

  • People were considering themselves ‘Arrived’, not needing discipleship
  • People were thinking they already discovered all the riches of Christ
  • People were saying they knew better than God’s Apostles and Leaders
  • Paul is saying they (Apostles) are reigning (Not by the Worlds measure)

For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like those condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to human beings.

  • Those who are fully living as God intends us all to live are not honored
  • Why would someone live like that?

We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored!

  • Paul is being Sarcastic…is God using sarcasm to make a point?
  • Who is honoring the Corinthians?

To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. We work hard with our own hands.

  • Earthly rewards…NOPE!
  • Answering God’s call on you life is rarely glamorous

When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world—right up to this moment.

  • Example of what true Maturity In Christ looks like…it looks like Christ
  • This is opposite of how our world says you are to be

Paul gives example of the depth of sacrifice the Apostolic church leadership experienced…as church leaders do in many ways around the world.

The depth of their sacrifice, their love for Christ and HIS body, led to intense revelation of God…that revelation became Scripture, the next part of “What is Written”

Those levels of sacrifice for Christ’s Body, can this be our example?

Application Questions:

What is your motivation to really know God’s Word?

In what ways might you be tempted to seek people’s approval thru ministry?

Why should you serve God in the most humble and anonymous ways?

How might you develop a realistic view of true maturity in Christ?

Who are the people in your life that follow Christ in obscurity?

John 17:9 & 15-20

I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours…

…I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message…” ~ Jesus The Christ

‘The United Temple’ Chapter 3:16 – 4:5

In this letter Paul started with the importance of unity.

Then the theme of how the world’s wisdom is opposite of God’s wisdom.

Next the critical need to have and yield to God’s Spirit

And then, how these things go into Spiritual maturity, then back to unity…

What the thrust of this passage is: If there are factions, then there is no Temple

3:11-13 (Last Week)

For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work.

  • Once in the body of Christ we are to build precious, eternal things
  • We will have to answer for what we have built

1 Corinthians 3:16 – 4:5

Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.

  • We are a Sacred Collective: It only exists when we are unified in Christ
  • The Temple is where God’s worship is done in Spirit and in Truth
  • God’s Spirit is here, will we let HIM have HIS way?
  • God says: a person can destroy that temple! How can that be?
  • We are only as united as the least united among us is: ‘The Weakest Link’
  • Sacredness is found in the togetherness, the true worship, in that togetherness

Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight.

  • If we are warned to not be deceive by ourselves it must mean we often are…
  • What informs your values and priorities?
  • The only objective standard we who belong to Christ use: GOD’S WORD
  • God’s Word defines what is wise in God’s sight, do you know it well enough?

As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness” and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.” So then, no more boasting about human leaders! All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.

  • ‘As it is written’ is what Jesus said when quoting the Old Testament scriptures
  • Matthew 4:4 Jesus is quoting Deut. 8:3 to Satan
  • He is appealing to the authority of Scripture in the believer lives
  • He is encouraging them to focus on what matters, not leadership preferences
  • We each as individuals have so much in Christ

Job 5:12-13: He thwarts the plans of the crafty, so that their hands achieve no success. He catches the wise in their craftiness, and the schemes of the wily are swept away.

Psalm 94:10-12: Does he who disciplines nations not punish? Does he who teaches mankind lack knowledge? The Lord knows all human plans, he knows that they are futile. Blessed is the one you discipline, Lord, the one you teach from your law.

This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.

  • How do you regard the leadership of our church?
  • 20 years ago I had no idea the sacrifices it takes to serve Christ & HIS church
  • I do believe I have been blessed to receive, carry and share The Mysteries
  • The Gospel of Jesus Christ
  • I fully believe I will have to answer for my faithfulness, as do the rest of leaders
  • Christ’s leaders are given a sacred trust, we must prove faithful

I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.

  • Paul know who’s opinion really matters (An Audience of One)
  • In humility he dosen’t try to justify himself, he has nothing to hide
  • But even his opinion doesn’t matter, only God’s

Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.

  • God says wait to Judge, in HIS time Our Lord will reveal what is the truth
  • The motives of your heart and my heart are not for us to judge in each other
  • Worry about your motives, not your brother of sister’

When we make the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ our ultimate reality…

  • We come together as a body and focus on what is important, CHRIST
  • We guard our unity with great care and love

Application Questions:

What does it mean to YOU to be part of a ‘Sacred Collective’?

In what part of your might YOU take the advise and become a ‘fool’?

How can YOU be a part of promoting what have in Christ instead of church leaders?

How do YOU view the leadership of this church, has it proven faithful?

How can Paul have a clear conscience and still not be innocent?

Why should WE leave Judgement of motives to God?

Building Spiritual Maturity

1 Corinthians 2:13-14

When we tell you these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom. Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths. But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means.

What does Paul mean by ‘Those who are Spiritual’?

He is talking about levels and degrees of spiritual maturity / mature discipleship

We can be saved and not be ‘Spiritual’, because we are immature

We all start out immature; physically, emotionally, socially, relationally…

We grow up and out of immaturity, we are made to become mature in every way, including spiritually.

But the key is that if you think you are mature you will be immature.

How do we become ‘Spiritually Mature’? We have to build it…it is a process

It is on the foundation of Christ that we build our ‘Spiritual Maturity’ (Discipleship)

The things that exemplify Christ; what we must intend to build in our hearts & lives

  • Humility / Sacrifice / Obedience / Holiness / Selflessness

Did you think to follow Christ was about only doing stuff you liked doing?

Spiritual Maturity results in eternal impact, Mature disciples of Christ change things

What we do with our salvation is almost as important as our salvation itself.

Paul is encouraging The Corinthians to grow up so they can build kingdom things

There is no such things as ‘Microwave Maturity’ it takes time to grow in Christ

1 Corinthians 3:1-15

Dear brothers and sisters, when I was with you I couldn’t talk to you as I would to spiritual people. I had to talk as though you belonged to this world or as though you were infants in Christ. I had to feed you with milk, not with solid food, because you weren’t ready for anything stronger.

  • As he had just explained, only the ‘Spiritual’ understand God’s love in Christ
  • Belonging to the world in areas of your life will keep you spiritually immature
  • Being an infant is ok if you are 6 months old…
  • Our quest to build ‘Spiritual Maturity’ needs to follow the natural order.
  • If you haven’t had the milk (made it your reality) you wont understand solid food
  • The process of discipleship is not on our terms (be sure to finish the milk)
  • Paul had to feed them, spiritually mature people feed themselves (normal deal)

And you still aren’t ready, for you are still controlled by your sinful nature. You are jealous of one another and quarrel with each other. Doesn’t that prove you are controlled by your sinful nature? Aren’t you living like people of the world? When one of you says, “I am a follower of Paul,” and another says, “I follow Apollos,” aren’t you acting just like people of the world?

  • It is obvious that enough time has passed for them to be ready…
  • They’re not ready because they are still being controlled by their flesh
  • Big difference between being influenced by your flesh & being controlled by it
  • He sites the agitation and side taking around different leaders (political focus)

After all, who is Apollos? Who is Paul? We are only God’s servants through whom you believed the Good News. Each of us did the work the Lord gave us. I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.

  • Who are leaders meant to be in Christ’s Kingdom? Last is first / first is last
  • Leaders in Christs kingdom just do the work given to them by God
  • Leaders aren’t our focus, if we want to be mature; Christ is to be our focus
  • It is God working in our lives that makes us mature. Leaders are not the source

The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work. For we are both God’s workers. And you are God’s field. You are God’s building.

  • Building Spiritual Maturity can only be done God’s way, by His power
  • If we do it God’s way it has ‘Eternal Value’; God rewards us for building maturity
  • This is God’s process, maturity comes for trusting Him & then giving Him credit

Because of God’s grace to me, I have laid the foundation like an expert builder. Now others are building on it. But whoever is building on this foundation must be very careful. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ.

  • God gives us leaders to lay foundations in our lives, we build on what they start
  • He was an expert because he only built on the foundation of Christ Jesus
  • We need to be as careful as He was, we use ‘Biblical Theology & ‘Christology’
  • Spiritual Maturity doesn’t happen by mistake, be real about your commitment

Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials—gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value.

  • All who are trying to build their life on Christ are capable of variations of work
  • Different materials represent what we form our life around: Eternal or Temporal
  • We can love Christ , follow Christ and still build worthless things into our lives
  • The Judgement Day Paul is talking about is what is known as the Bema
  • The Judgement Seat of Christ / Judgement of the saved

2 Cor 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

  • 1st Judgement: Is your name in the book of Life (Rev 20)
  • The Saved will be will be judged on what they built that was of eternal value
  • Building Christ’s Kingdom is what is of eternal value, the by-product of maturity

If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames.

  • If what you have done with your life since salvation is of eternal value: Reward
  • Our post salvation lives are judged based on what we built (eternal or temporal)
  • Discovering we wasted our lives on things will be painful
  • You will still be in heaven (Saved) but will miss out on amazing rewards…

We can choose to be who God wants us to be and use our life in Christ to build eternal things from a growing spiritual maturity in Christ.

We can also choose to be captivated by and focused on this world, building worthless things that will pass aways.

I want to encourage you today to choose Spiritual Maturity as your goal as a disciple and building things of eternal value that you can invest your life in (people)

Application Questions:

Can you identify areas in your life where you are an infant in Christ?

What personal practices or habits have helped you become more mature spiritually?

In what ways can you trust God with your maturity building?

How do you plan to faithfully build on the foundation of Christ?

What can you build that will have value / survive the judgment? (Bema Seat)