1. 1 Corinthians 3:1-4- People of the flesh are contrasted against people of the Spirit.
- Fleshly people must begin with spiritual milk. The Corinthians wanted to debate and discuss philosophy of deeper theological points than they were ready for. They still didn't understand the basic truths of grace and holiness. Many people today try to dive into theological discussion before they are ready. Sometimes churches forget that new Christians haven't adjusted their way of thinking to their new calling.
- People of the flesh are identified by their behavior. Fleshly people are normal. They argue among one another, seek their own rights above the welfare of the Church, and are anxious to follow human leaders with a loyalty that competes with their love for Christ.
- Key verse: 1 Corinthians 3:3 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?
2. 1 Corinthians 3:5-9- Spiritual leaders, pastors, and evangelists are merely servants for the cause of Christ.
- Each Christian has a job to do. We should all strive to approach, nurture, and harvest unbelievers to the cause of Christ all the time, but some people are "specialists". Each of us probably does one of these jobs best, but every job is equally important to impacting the world for the glory of God.
- God is the only One who can supply growth. We can't make people understand. We can't make them believe. Prayer is a powerful tool to increasing our results. At the end of the day, each and every person who is saved owes his/her salvation completely to the Spirit of God. It is our privilege to get to be a part.
- We are expected to work, and will receive payment based on our effort, not the results. The quality of a Christian's life cannot be determined while on this earth. It's about putting yourself out there, being willing to look foolish, and keeping at it. We will be rewarded, even if it appears that our work is fruitless.
- Key verse: 1 Corinthians 3:7 It's not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What's important is that God makes the seed grow.
3. 1 Corinthians 3:10-15- We are commanded to carefully build onto the foundation of Christ.
- The foundation of the Church is Christ. That means that what we do reflects on Him directly. We must be very careful, therefore, in the work that we do in the Church.
The quality of the work that we do to build up the Church will be revealed in eternity. We may not see the results now. We may not realize that what we are doing has any affect, or we may think that our work is more effective than it is because we are building quickly, but not carefully. That work will be revealed for what it is on the Day of Christ's return.
- Real ministry (paid or not) is slow, difficult work. The most valuable work that we do requires patience, time, and personal sacrifice. If we want our work to last, we must be willing to put our whole selves on the line.
- Careless work will cost us. Although we cannot lose salvation by carelessly building onto the Church with cheap materials and carelessness, it will cause us to smell of fire before God. The work that we do in the flesh, without depending on God to enable us to do things His way, will be burnt up. Only that which is done through the power of the Spirit will last.
- Key verse: 1 Corinthians 3:13 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.
4. 1 Corinthians 3:16-17- The Church is the dwelling place of God, called to holiness.
- The Church is precious to God. That means that those who destroy it are messing with the wrong Man. God will punish those who mess with His people. He takes it personally.
- We, as members of the body of Christ, are called to be completely holy. Holiness means that we are set apart, to be used only for the cause of Christ. We cannot allow ourselves to pulled into the ways of the world. The Church should be one place where people always forgive, always love, and are seeking after the good of the whole above their own.
- Key verse: 1 Corinthians 3:16 Don't you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you?
5. 1 Corinthians 3:18-23- The wisdom of this world isn't just useless; it's dangerous.
- In order to gain pure wisdom, we must admit that the wisdom of this world is actually foolishness. We cannot earn salvation. We aren't the highest rung on the ladder of the universe. Being a good person just ain't enough. We have realize the folly of earthly thinking in order to grasp the greatness, power, and wisdom of the salvation we have received.
- The wisdom of this world is useless, and it will be used to show our own stupidity if we cling to it. God is going to use fleshly ways of thinking to prove His greatness. It doesn't make sense that God would give up His perfect Son in order to save those that hate Him. That shows His infinite love. It doesn't make sense that God would rather have His Son die than have sin go for unpaid. That shows His intense sense of justice.
- Boasting in what we know reveals a pride issue that prevents us from enjoying the full unity of the Church. Pride is dangerous to the Church. Pride places faith in ourselves when that faith rightfully belongs to God. It creates disunity in the Church because we are all placing our faith and loyalty in something other than God. He deserves all our faith and all of our loyalty. When we give Him what He deserves, we are unified because we share a common goal, the glory of God.
- God has given us what we need to have a healthy church and holy life. He has given us leaders to help in guiding us, but they are only a tool that comes from Him. He has given us this world and the next, the present and the future, all to bring Him glory. We belong to Him, and we must use the resources bestowed upon us by way of Christ to bring Him glory.
- Key verse: 1 Corinthians 3:21 So don't boast about following a particular human leader. For everything belongs to you --